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it's been a while... but we're back!

July 1st, 2011 at 05:09 pm

It's amazing that after a year and a half of not posting, and 6 months of not even updating our savings/debt totals, I still come back to this thing when I feel like we're "out of control" on financial stuff.

Things have been steady for us, but we've both been so busy with work that we haven't really focused on anything else for about a year.

That being said, we have managed to pay off DH's car, and continue contributing to our 401k's.

The other debts have decreased some, but not enough for what we have paid out! Dang the interest.

In total, since my last update in November, our debt has decreased by $1,941 while our total investments have increased by $2,596. That's a net improvement in our financials of $4,537... which is that much better than we were in November!

Currently, we are facing some financial decisions that are making us want to pull our hair out. There is definitely no clear answer, and as soon as one person gives us advice one way, somebody else contradicts it on the other end. UGH!

But, we will figure it out eventually. I'm about to hop over onto the forums and ask for some advice there I think. Smile

Baby Step #1 Completed!!!

February 8th, 2010 at 12:25 pm

Well, we haven't been updating but we have been chugging along.

Our emergency fund was sitting at about $600 after a small "Christmas money" addition in January.

Updated our month-end numbers for January (albeit a bit late), and no big surprises there. Total debt decreased by $332.42 (much better than last month), and total investments increased by $267.95 (not as good as last month). So that makes our "net" improvement about $600.37. Like I've said before, not bad for us! Smile

I look forward to posting month-end numbers for February, for several reasons. The biggest one... we have finally completed Dave Ramsey's Baby Step #1... $1,000 in our Emergency Fund! YAY!!!

We have received the money from our federal & one state tax (lived in two states in 2009). Took $400 of it and added it to our EF, making it right at $1,000. Now I can allow myself to continue reading Dave's Total Money Makeover. (I had stopped right after the Emergency Fund chapter, waiting until we had completed it to continue.)

I know the next steps involve paying off debt using the snowball technique. I look forward to learning more about it, but have already started that process. We used more of our return money to pay off DH's only credit card, because it had the smallest balance of our 4 household cards. So that is about $348 paid. YAY!!!

The 3 remaining cards are all in my name. I know the debt snowball calls for us to pay them off starting with the smallest balance. BUT, the smallest balance is on my Discover card. It has the lowest interest rate and is relatively easy to manage (no fee for paying online or over the phone, for instance). The other two cards have similar balances (both over $10k, shew), but one has lower interest, no fees to pay online. The third card is the bane of my existence.

Even when I get it paid off, I probably won't close it (immediately) because it's my oldest credit account. But, I haven't used it in almost a year, mostly because we haven't been charging anything, and also because it is a pain in the behind to keep up with.

Basically, I have to use a check to pay it, or pay $9 in "service fees" for paying online or over the phone. If I need to pay over the phone, it takes literally 10 minutes just to get through all the automated menus. Online is simpler, but still costs me $9. At this point, we have had to take the $9 hit the last two months, while switching bank accounts, changing my name, and ordering checks for the new account. Hopefully, we will have a check to mail them next month and they can stick that $9 fee where the sun doesn't shine.

ANYWAY... this card also has the highest interest rate (go figure). It is significantly higher than the others. For these reasons, I am choosing to pay off this card first.

With that said, the minimum payment was $277 this month. I paid $999.99 using some refund money, which is the highest amount it will let me do paying online (another disadvantage of that stupid thing). I had another $300 that I wanted to pay on it, so I transferred that $300 to our savings account until next month.

Also paid the minimums on the other two cards.

So, there we are. That takes care of most of our refund money, except the smaller amount I've left in our old checking account as a buffer until we get everything switched over to the new one. We just took a mini-vacation for 3 days, which cost about $400 total. We had a blast, spent some quality time together, and both got a little fun & relaxation in before spring, when both of our jobs will get crazy.

I hope our February month-end numbers reflect the changes we've been trying to make financially. We'll see!


Christmas, Debt, Checking Accounts, Phone Interviews, Taxes, SHEW!

January 5th, 2010 at 09:33 am

Well, it's been a while!

We were doing so well on the daily spending tracking, until our internet was down for a few days. It really shouldn't have been that hard to keep track of it on paper, but what can I say... we're millenials. Wink

Anyway, we made it through Christmas and only charged one thing on a CC, and that was only because I didn't have a debit card with me at the time. We did pay that amount back off of the credit card though.

Overall, I feel like we kept things under control, although we still definitely spent more than we had to.

I am SO ready for this new year financially. 2009 was wonderful, but I always knew we had to pay for a wedding & honeymoon that was not kind to the wallet. Now that we are happily married and settled back into our home state, things are going pretty smoothly.

I updated our debt & investments numbers as of the end of December. Nothing tremendous, although our investments took a bigger jump than I expected. Total debt was down just $37. But, that does not include one payment that I normally do before month-end. DH has 2 of his paychecks that he has not deposited yet, so I can't pay it until this week. It should mean that we have a decent jump for end-of-January numbers though! Either way, at least it's a MINUS $37, not a PLUS $37!

Our savings/investments were up $662.03, due in part to $200 of Christmas money that we transferred to our savings account and DH's 401k increasing by $150. The rest were piddly increases in my IRA & stock accounts, and an okay in bump in my 401k.

If you add together the decrease in debt (although small) and the increase in savings, we have almost a net $700 improvement over the end of November. Not bad for us.

---

Speaking of 401k's, I have started to wonder whether my company is going to start matching contributions again this year. I had my 3% matched the first year I was with them, then they stopped in the spring because we had been affected by the down economy like everyone else. I wasn't happy, but I understand if it's just for a year. Hopefully they will bring it back sometime? Frown

Other than that, things are going well with my job. I still feel kind of paranoid sometimes, just because there have been quite a few people in and out of my position in the past few years. I'm okay with being "out", as long as it's because of a promotion! My boss's boss has mentioned a position that will be opening up within the next year, and seems to be hinting that I should be ready for it. A few weeks ago though, I learned that one of my counterparts is being relocated back to the area, and while I don't think he would get the job over me, it definitely makes for more competition. So, I've just been trying to think every day, "what do I need to learn or do today to make myself a better candidate?". I think it's almost scarier when you feel like things are going right, because it seems like your luck has to end sometime! Blah!

---

DH has been applying for other jobs. He is not completely unhappy where he is, and I keep telling him, it's a stable job with pay for overtime and benefits. To his credit though, his boss is a complete idiot about 80% of the time, and doesn't seem to appreciate responsible, hard-working employees.

DH has always been given glowing recommendations from any job he's ever had, and especially compared to the goons he works with, is above and beyond a good employee at his current place. He gets discouraged because one of the "goons" gets away with EVERYTHING (he is 21, has a baby of his own, and his MOM still calls into work for him... really?), while DH does everything right, is early to work every day, scores the highest on all the tests, and gets treated the same or worse than the goon. It pains me to see him so willing and able to put in extra effort and make a future with something, when unfortunately he has a dumb boss who doesn't see or doesn't care what is going on.

ANYWAY! He got an email back about a management training position he had applied for. It's a mid-sized retail commpany, which is what he has always worked before his current job. He had his initial talk to the guy last night, and learned that it would pay $11/hour ($1 more than he makes now) for the six month program. They have roughly 20 stores opening in our area in the next year, and if he does well he would get placed in one of those.

The conversation was pretty short, but he has a phone interview scheduled for tomorrow evening. He is super nervous, which makes me nervous for him. We have talked about all the things he needs to ask, what he needs to tell them, etc.

Sounds like a good opportunity, but who knows? With us just starting out, and trying to save and pay down debt as much as possible, I am so scared of him losing a decent job. But, I also understand that he is trying to think about the future and not just the "now", which is what I've always carped on him about. I should be proud that he's making efforts to move forward and improve his earning potential. It truly would be such a blessing if he could get a steady day job, earning enough that he could go back to school in the evenings and weekends and get his degree.

I don't think he'd want to stay with this company forever, but if it worked out it would give him management experience he doesn't have now, and that would be pretty good if he could finish up at least his Associate's degree in the process. Then he would be applying for jobs with a whole new set of qualifications than what he has now.

Shew, that's a lot of thinking and worrying and being nervous! I guess we will just take it one step at a time and make decisions as we go. The next step is his phone interview tomorrow night. Wish him luck!

---

The only other financial things we have going on are trying to switch from one checking account to another, trying to get my last name changed on the new account and DH added to it, trying to set up direct deposit & order checks for both of us, and figuring out what to do about taxes this year.

I have changed my name with the social security office and have my new card, my insurance is changed to my new name, and my driver's license will be as soon as I get my driving record from our previous state to give to them.

But, I haven't changed my W-4 forms at work yet, so I wonder if that will affect us filing jointly? Since my social is under my new last name but my W-2 will be issued to my maiden name? Geesh, why is it so hard to do these things!!!

Need to do some ebay-ing.

December 10th, 2009 at 05:31 pm

Spending Log:

Gas for Me: $10
My Lunch: $6
DH's Lunch: $4.50
One of My Christmas Gifts from DH: $8

---

We stunk at the lunch thing today. DH actually made sandwiches and packed them with some drinks, then forgot to take them with him to work. I saw them sitting on our couch when I got up. I wasn't even supposed to work today, but after my boss's boss showed up and was mad about random things, I ended up rushing out the door in half-dry clothes. So needless to say, didn't pack lunch. Blah.

We also had to drive about 45 minutes (one way) to get DH's old TV from his parents' house, and take it back to my work. They'd better appreciate my dedication. Hopefully it will get me somewhere, someday.

On a side note, I need to put some things on Ebay or Craigslist. I guess I should try Craigslist first, since it's free. We still have so many boxes that we haven't unpacked from our move, sitting in our spare bedroom. I want to get it unpacked and organized, but there is so much stuff! And the kicker... there are quite a few brand new bottles of Bath & Body Works lotion sets, etc. that I got for Christmas or my birthday and haven't used. I mean, if you forget that you have something and haven't looked for it in the six months since you moved in... chances are you can live without it. Plus, even if we got a dollar out of it, it's better than cluttering up our house. And any extra money around Christmas is good. Smile

Still Tracking... & a Display Contest

December 9th, 2009 at 06:13 pm

Spending Log:

My Breakfast: $2.12
My Snack: $2.25
DH's Lunch: $4.30
Groceries For Supper: $4.50
Gas for DH: $10

---

We are still tracking! Yay for us. I know we are over on our eating out budget. We will have to start making our lunches the night before and sticking them in the fridge, because it's all I can do to pull myself out of bed in time for a shower in the morning. That is what kills me... I don't mind to eat leftovers or lunch I've packed, I just never remember or have time to get it ready in the morning. Gotta fix that.

I'm supposed to be taking vacation days today and tomorrow, but I am going to try and go get DH's old TV from his parents' house and take it to my work. We are building a display to try and win a contest, and need to be finishing it soon. Hopefully I can get it in the back of my truck and to work without rain!

Sending off DH's car payment tomorrow. Reminds me that I still need a new tire on my truck. Now that the cold weather has set in, we are having to inflate it again every other day. Must be a slow leak. I probably need all new tires, but we can't afford that right now, and I hate to think that I might buy new tires and then my truck break down! It's held up well so far, so everyone cross your fingers.

Well, I'm off to enjoy a nice relaxing bath and some reading, then do a few things for work and get ready for tomorrow.

Daily Spending Log

December 8th, 2009 at 07:45 pm

Spending Log:

DH's Lunch: $5
My Lunch: $4.50

---

Spendy, spendy... but none on the CC's.

December 7th, 2009 at 04:07 pm

Spending Log:

Pizza: $8 (Entertainment)
Gas for DH: $10 (Gas)
Mexican Restaurant: $25 (Eating Out)
3 Candles (Gifts): $20 (Christmas)
Gift for My Mom: $10 (Christmas)
Wrapping Paper/Ribbon: $8 (Household)
Tape/Ribbon: $2 (Household)
Candy Ingredients: $8 (Groceries)
Paid FFB Bill: $261

---

To be fair, not all of the above spending was from today. The pizza is from Saturday night, when DH's sister, bro-in-law, and niece came over. We ordered pizza and split the bill.

Yesterday, we went out to eat (Mexican) and also to a movie - but used a gift card for the movie. We saw New Moon and I loved it... not as good as the book, but they never are! Smile

Today, I went into work for a bit (it was my day off) and the person that had my position before me was in the boss's office when I got there. It's not the first time, he comes back often and chats with everybody, but it's still weird because he got fired right before I got there. Just awkward and unnerving to see him, really.

Also got my mom a cute decorative storage box for her kitchen, which is done in roosters. It was 50% off at a crafty/decor store, which made it only $10. She is super hard to shop for, so that will probably be her big "gift", paired with some nice warm socks & a gift card. Picked up 3 soy wax candles while I was at work, for my dad's girlfriend, and two grandmothers. Slowly but surely getting it done! (And none on the credit cards so far!)

Being salary is a double-edged sword.

December 5th, 2009 at 04:56 pm

Spending Log:
DH's Lunch: $1.37 {Eating Out}
My Breakfast: $3.17 {Eating Out}
Cat Litter: $3.50

---

Shew, long day at work. Tomorrow is supposed to be my day off, but I may go in to do a few things. The good thing is, I'm salary so I don't have to abide by the no-overtime rules like everyone else. The bad thing is, I don't get overtime so I don't get paid for the after-forty hours every week! It's a double-edged sword I guess!

Tonight will be spent relaxing, we were going to go out to eat but decided not to and save the "entertainment" money. DH's sister, niece, and bro-in-law might be stopping by for a bit anyway.

I'm proud of us, this is our 5th day of tracking every penny and we've done pretty good I guess. I suspect we are over the weekly budget for eating out, but not too bad and we have stocked up on some groceries that might catch us up later in the month.

We'll see!

Cold Weather, Spending Tracker

December 4th, 2009 at 07:18 pm

Spending Log:
My Lunch: $3
Gas for my Truck: $15

---

Not much else to report. Work is stressful, just trying to stay busy and be successful. Cold weather today, compared to what we had been having!

I'll be eating leftovers for lunch tomorrow, proud of myself! Smile

Work, Work, Work.

December 3rd, 2009 at 07:12 pm

Spending Log:
DH's Lunch: $2.20 {Eating Out}
Cigarettes: $3.50 {Household}
My Lunch: $2.12 {Eating Out}
Groceries: $45
Trash Bags, Etc.: $10 {Household}
---

Work has been interesting, but a little weird. Got handed a special presentation for our district yesterday, which is pretty cool. Don't know when we're going to have time to get things together, but we'll figure it out I guess.

Things have seemed a little off lately too. Not in a bad way, not in a good way. Just a weird, kind of ominous way. I guess the best thing to do is just put my nose to the grind, mind my own business, and make sure I don't give anybody any reason to pay extra attention to me. Unless it's the good attention from doing such an awesome job. Smile

Back to the grind...

Leftovers for Lunch :)

December 2nd, 2009 at 03:54 pm

Spending Log:
DH's Lunch: $4.17 {Eating Out}
DH's Snack: $1.00 {Eating Out}
My Snack: $1.15 {Eating Out}
My Haircut: $21 {Haircuts}

---

Whoo hoo! Day #2 of tracking every penny!

I took leftovers from supper for my lunch today, so just bought a snack. A little proud of myself for that!

Money is getting tighter, with Christmas coming up and all the bills approaching. It makes me a little nervous because I like to have a cushion in our checking account, but also makes me feel better because I feel like we're consciously tightening the reins. Tighter money means we pay more attention to where it's going!

Plus, we are trying to switch to a new checking account, but haven't ordered checks yet, so we can't get a direct deposit made until then. And I don't want to order checks until DH adds himself to the account, which I have to be present for. An hour during a workday that we both can get off of work? Right!!!

Not much to report other than that, Rudolph comes on tonight sometime, so DH & I are going to watch it (with the pets of course, hehe). I love the old Christmasy ones. Smile

First Day of "Tracking Every Penny"!

December 1st, 2009 at 07:08 pm

Spending Log:
DH's Lunch: $6.50 {Eating Out}
Groceries for Dinner: $6.80 {Groceries}
My Lunch: $2.40 {Eating Out}

---

Well, today is the official start of our "tracking every penny" budget. We did fairly well for November, considering that we started halfway through the month and did some Christmas shopping, etc.

We are staying pretty close to budget on the Christmas shopping. We have been trying to average everything out, so that if we spend a few dollars more on one person, it is a few less on another. So far, so good.

We have completed gifts for DH's two sisters, their husbands, our niece, two almost-nephews, my youngest brother, and my sister. We have partial gifts for DH's mom, DH's dad, my dad, one of my other brothers, and my grandma. I've also ordered DH's "big" gift (a video game) on sale from Amazon. he got some kind of $20 credit with the sale, for Cyber Monday.

Big company coming at my work tomorrow, so I'm kind of nervous about that. Seems like they always visit after I've been off for a few days and have alot to catch up on. DH got a customer compliment at work today, apparently the guy was impressed with how DH handled a certain situation, and wanted to let his supervisor know. Pretty cool.

Well, I need to pay a few bills and then try to update November's month-end numbers for debt & savings. Then bed!

So many things, so little cash.

November 21st, 2009 at 12:37 pm

I got dragged out of my house this morning to go Christmas shopping with my mom & youngest brother (he's 5).

Mostly, she just wanted me there to pick out the clothes I wanted from her for Christmas, along with DH's and some of my other younger brother's. So now if anybody doesn't like their clothes, it's my fault. Wink

Anyway, I actually found a nice shirt on sale at Aeropostale for DH, but then my mom decided she was getting that for him as well! I ended up with some jeans, two sweaters, and some lotions/sprays from Victoria Secret. We picked out a pair of jeans & two shirts for him as well.

There were alot of sales going on already, and it was tempting to pick a few things up along the way, but we're trying to stick to our Christmas budget pretty closely, which means finding the best deals possible.

Mom bought lunch (she always refuses to let me pay when I'm with her, unless I physically force the money into the waitress's hands), so all in all I spent absolutely nothing!

DH didn't take the lunch box thing he normally packs food in, so I'm assuming he will eat out today. We'll see what that adds up to.

Well, the rest of today will be spent hopefully getting a haircut, picking up some essentials (toilet paper, laundry soap), then heading to our hometown to see my newest baby cousin, and then to DH's sister & bro-in-law's house to watch a football game. If we have time, I'd like to take advantage of the nice weather and lime/fertilize our backyard. We've already bought the stuff, just needed a nice day to do it.

Shew, what a long day... but hopefully not a spendy one!

First Bit of Christmas Shopping... All Deals!

November 20th, 2009 at 05:47 pm

Yesterday, DH didn't spend money on lunch again (his boss bought lunch for the second day in row... weird but good!). I have been eating at home all week since I've been on vacation from work, so we decided we'd order out for pizza and take it out of the "entertainment" part of the budget.

Ordered the BEST pizza in town and used a $1 off coupon. DH went to pick it up instead of getting it delivered and paying a tip (they are just a short drive from us). It was delicious, but I won't be craving it again for a while!

Today, I met the gas company so they could finally turn our gas on, and it didn't cost anything! I had budged $50 for a deposit or set up fee, so it was a nice surprise when we didn't have to pay it. BUT (isn't there always a "but"?)... we also got in the mail a bill for $33 where they tried to come another time and we weren't home. DH swears they never told him there would be a fee if we couldn't make the appointment, especially since they gave us a range of when they'd be stopping by anyway ("sometime between 8 and 12"). Either way, that just about offsets what I had budgeted for the deposit. I thought about calling to see if we could get out of the fee, but I figure they won't budge. And we only have one choice for gas, so...

Even with the fee, that still leaves $15 extra. I may just transfer that $15 to our Emergency Fund.

Anyway, after the gas guy left I headed to my appointment with our insurance agent. It was nice to see her, since she used to be my boss and we've always gotten along. Even better, the meeting was quick and she didn't try to push more life insurance or anything. Good thing I went in too, both mine & DH's life insurance policies had the wrong beneficiaries (our parents). And, I was able to take off a coverage that only one of us had to have on our cars, instead of both. Upped my liability limits to match his, and also took out a small policy on our wedding bands & my engagement ring. With my track record with jewelery, we need it. It was only $35 for the whole year, so I went ahead and paid it all today.

After that, I ran to work for a few minutes to pick something up that I had ordered. Ended up chatting with the boss man for a few minutes, getting a feel for how things had gone while I was out. It certainly looked much better than the first time I left for a week, but there were still some things I knew he didn't notice. He's more of a big-picture kinda guy I guess, I'm more of the detail type. I left feeling a little better about the whole thing, especially since I still had 3 days before I have to be back! I'll just be ready to hit it hard then.

Left there and got some lunch out ($5), first bit of money I've spent on eating out all week! Much better than my normal average, lol.

Decided to do a bit of Christmas shopping (since we haven't even started) while I was out. Went to the mall and was determined to find deals!

The loot:

CUTE black stripe toboggan from Baby Gap (for my littlest brother):
regular $14.50, on sale for $2.24

Long-sleeved girly shirt from Baby Gap (for DH's niece):
regular $12.50, on sale for $4.48

5 mini hand sanitizers from Bath & Body Works (for the girls at work):
regular $1.50 each, on sale for $1.00 each

Nice polo shirt from American Eagle (for another of my brothers):
regular $29.50, on sale for $10.46

------------------------------------------

We still have shopping left to do for all of the above people, but what I got will knock out alot of the "thinking" part. I know my older "little" brothers would prefer just a gift card or money, but I always want to get them something to "open" too. So that's where the AE shirt comes in... now we'll just get him a gift card for gas or Walmart or something. Kind of the same situation for my littlest brother & DH's niece, I always try to get them some clothing but toys too. Now that we have the niece's shirt, we can get the rest in toys.

For the girls at my work, I'll probably just put some candy w/ some chapstick & the mini hand sanitizers. Keep it cheap!

------------------------------------------

DH ran to the grocery down the street to pick up some sugar & Diet Cokes. He did good by not getting anything "extra" while he was there. We also remembered to take back our Redbox movie last night, so no late fee!

DH ate lunch out today, but he is budgeted about 3 times per week, so that is good.

Welp, busy day tomorrow, better go spend some time with the husband while I can! Smile

ALMOST a No-Spend Day!

November 18th, 2009 at 06:00 pm

Our first day on the budget went pretty well!

DH was going to use part of his weekly eating-out budget for lunch today, but he ended up working with his boss all day and he bought DH's lunch. Pretty cool, wish he would do that every day! Smile

Also, we almost caved to temptation (I know, already!). Right before we started this budgeting process, we had purchased a video game for DH. I'm way worse than him when it comes to stuff like that, because I always want him to have it. There is a computer game that I kind of wanted too, but it was another $50 and I just didn't want to do that at the same time. DH almost had me talked into it, because I haven't had a new game in years, and those type of games I can literally play for years.

Anyway, I mentioned it tonight and DH wanted to go get it for me. He felt guilty because he had his game and is enjoying it, but I am kinda stuck here reading Dave Ramsey or doing laundry on my week off of work. I had almost rationalized it in my mind, that we would use the gift cards we had left over and therefore it wouldn't be coming out of the bank account so it wouldn't really count. But, my conscience struck and I realized that it probably wouldn't play on my laptop anyway. I've had it since my freshman year of college (about 5-6 years now), which is kind of old for a computer. DH says it probably would, but I don't want to chance it and spend the money.

So... temptation averted. In total today, we spent $1.06 on a Redbox rented movie. DH was about to pay $4 to download one off his Playstation, but it was his idea to go to Redbox instead. I cooked spaghetti for dinner and made some sweet tea to go with it, and we had a nice, cheap evening together.

Other things I got done today (because I wasn't playing a computer game, lol)... made an eye doctor appointment for the week after next, called my old eye doctor to get them to fax my prescription info to the new place (hopefully with that I can order contacts before my insurance resets and get this years coverage in), made an appointment for the gas company to come out and turn our gas on (it's gettin a little chilly), checked the balance of some older gift cards (Starbucks & Walmart), transferred the $100 we had talked about from our checking account to our Emergency Fund, and started on cleaning the bathrooms.

DH put air in my flat tire, so hopefully I can get my "out and about" stuff done tomorrow. If we can hold off until Saturday, DH could go with me to get the new tire we need. That would just leave me with Driver's License, Social Security Card, and Registration tomorrow, Insurance Agent & Gas Company on Friday.

I'm getting a bit nervous about work. Seems like whenever I'm gone for a few days something weird or bad happens. There are a few people there who don't like me, even though they are very nice to my face, and I know they'd jump on any chance to boot me out. It's a shame that I can't even really relax on my vacation time for worrying about what's going to happen when I go back. Sheesh.

On a different note, I found the perfect Christmas gift for one of DH's sisters online. She's a big Paula Deen fan, and I found a couple of cute wall plaques with quotes from Paula Deen for like $9 plus $4 shipping. That is $13 compared to the $10 we had budgeted for her gift, but we can spend less on our "work" gifts if we need to. I'm not even sure we need to take candy or anything to work, but I didn't want to be unprepared in case people do. Plus, I know she would absolutely LOVE it and we could get it out of the way now. Just gotta convince DH of its greatness, hehe.

That's all for now I suppose. I'm off to get the deposit slip & DH's paycheck ready for him to take with him tomorrow, so I know it gets deposited! He also needs to get out the cash we had talked about for Christmas shopping money.

Then back to laundry & organizing!

Things done, things to do.

November 18th, 2009 at 08:40 am

Did I mention I'm on vacation from work this week? The sad thing is, I almost dreaded it. The store I work at is kind of crazy right now, and sometimes I really feel like I'm the thread that has to hold it all together. Not that I'm that important, just that I'm the only one that seems to care or stress over it sometimes.

But, my District Manager told me that he didn't want to see me lose my vacation time at the end of the year, and nobody else would sacrifice theirs, so I needed a break. Easy to say... he'll probably be there the day I get back to yell at me over how things look!

I had planned to take the whole week, and go back in on Tuesday next week. I got nervous right before I left, and told my boss that I might only take off half the week and come back today or tomorrow. But, I have been pretty productive around the house and feel much more relaxed, so I am thinkng I will take off at least through tomorrow.

Things I've managed to get done this week:

-Registered our new checking account online, called them to make sure we'll still be eligible for the preferred account when my direct deposit goes through (it's been a while since we officially opened the account).

-Registered DH's retirement account online, designated myself as the beneficiary on his life insurance and 401k.

-Made a budget (with DH).

-Mapped out cash flow for next few weeks.

-Budgeted for Christmas shopping.

-Paid 3 debts from before we moved.

-Called cell phone company and got a $90 credit for a charge that has been on our account for the last 3 months and should have been taken off earlier this year.

-Washed/Dried/Put Away all laundry in laundry room.

-Cleaned kitchen sink & counters.

-Started Dave Ramsey's book (thru Baby Step 1).

-Had dinner w/ DH, my mom, little brother (5), other little brother (20), and little brother's new girlfriend & her baby.

-Went through old mail & sorted/trashed.

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Now, I still have alot left to do, hopefully before I go back to work:

-Get new Driver's License (in this state & with my new last name).

-Get vehicle registered in this state.

-Get new tire for truck (we've been airing it up daily, time to break down and get a new one before it blows out I guess).

-Eye doctor appointment (contacts).

-Hair cut (haven't had one in 6-8 months).

-New social security card (with my new last name).

-Meet w/ insurance agent (also my old boss, haha) to go over our policies. I know there are legitimate changes we need to make since we're married, but I hope she doesn't try to sell us anything additional.

-Start on laundry in garage (from our move... smells musty now and needs to be washed).

-Clean both bathrooms.

-Sweep kitchen.

-Vacuum carpets.

-Wash pup's blankets.

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If I get all that done, it will be a spendy day, but they are all things we accounted for in the cash flow sheet, so that makes me feel better. I hate doing the vehicle stuff though... I'm not even sure how to go about getting new tire and having it put on, lol.

I might try to do all housework today, and make the appointments for tomorrow, so DH can help me air up the tire tonight.

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Oh! Forgot to mention that I redeemed some MyPoints for a $10 Old Navy gift card. I had been doing it for a while and then forgot about it, so this is the first time I actually redeemed for a reward. I figure we can use that to either buy DH's neice or my little bro a gift (they always have cute kids stuff), or give it to one of the parents. Either way, $10 that didn't come out of our pockets.

Also, DH forgot to take his paycheck with him today to deposit. He's been meaning to for a couple of days, but we're just going to have to start organizing the night before for the next day... it's too easy for both of us to forget things in the rush of the morning.

We'll just keep on keepin' on...

Starting Baby Step #1, Kinda.

November 17th, 2009 at 05:38 pm

As a wedding gift, one of DH's family members gave us a copy of Dave Ramsey's Total Money Makeover. I've enjoyed listening to his radio show quite a bit in the past, so I was excited that I actually had time to start reading the book yesterday. Eighty pages later, we arrive at Baby Step #1, which I'm sure everyone knows is the $1,000 Emergency Fund.

Now, just like Dave expects in the pages of his book, I was initially against this. I see that big mound of debt sitting in the background, charging us ridiculous interest every month, and my first instinct is to attack it first. But, I get the premise. If we save that $1,000, it will allow us to pay off debt continuously, and not have to start and stop every time an unforeseen expense comes up and we have to use a credit card.

I could have finished the book today (I'm a big reader), but I stopped myself. I figured it would benefit me more psychologically if I stopped reading after Baby Step 1, until we had completed Baby Step 1. No need in getting ahead of ourselves.

So, there I sat, thinking of Baby Step 1 and our checking account balance. My first step was to sit down and figure out our cash flow for the next couple of weeks. Starting with our balance and filling in the days with paychecks or bills due, I saw that after the bills, we should have an average of $800 in the account. Now, after accounting for gas, groceries, and other expenses that don't have a due date, I estimated we really have about $400 of a cushion.

How much of that $400 should be transferred to our savings account right now? I wish it could be the full $400, but then we'd just be transferring it right back for Christmas shopping.

So, I took a timeout and formulated a budget for our Christmas shopping. After a couple of revisions (big families add up fast), I came up with an amount of about $670, including what we will spend on each other. It would have been worse, but part of my side of the family has decided to buy a set of gifts for an Angel Tree child this year. Normally, the adults all draw one name each (so it would be two gifts for DH & I), and everyone buys a separate gift for the kids. It has gotten expensive with new ones being born every year! With this year's change, we will be buying for an Angel Tree child, effectively replacing the gifts for 10 of my family members.

So with that total in mind, I decided that I would transfer $100 to our savings account, and have DH withdraw $300 for Christmas cash. That way, we have almost half of our Christmas budget separated from the regular checking account balance, but still spendable when we decide to shop (hopefully soon). And, the $100 transfer will give our little Emergency Fund a start, albeit a small one.

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After the initial cash flow & Emergeny Fund decision was made, DH got home from work and I went over everything with him. He was in agreement, so we moved on to working on our Monthly Budget.

Now, keep in mind that DH does not get a kick out of finances. He's not a number cruncher by any means, so this was actually the first time we had sat down together and came up with a budget. In the past, it has been me doing the work and then laying it out for him to see. But, I think it is important that we both be on the exact same page with this going forward, and we both understand what we are doing and why we're trying to do it. That way, we can be strong when the other is weak.

After about an hour (and a frozen pizza), we had a rough draft. We ended up going back and cutting some of the "spending" accounts like Entertainment and Eating Out, realizing that whatever we can cut from there will allow us to either save or pay off more debt. If anybody's interested, our budget is on a page in the sidebar.

It will be a challenge to meet it, but I think we can. The biggest obstacles will be planning our meals ahead, buying groceries for dinner at home, and lunch at work. DH is on the road all day with his job, so it's not really feasible for him to bring a lunch every day of the week. But if he can do it 3 days of the 6 he normally works, he can spend $5 on lunch the other 3 days and still be within budget. Mine should be simpler, since I can bring soup or frozen dinners or whatever and eat in our breakroom. Therefore, my budget is $20/month (for the occassional drink or snack) and DH's is $80.

We tried to make the budget realistic, but also underestimated our income and overestimated a few expenses, just in case. We're going to try to stick to the weekly amounts starting tomorrow, but we'll keep track of every purchase starting on December 1st.

Besides the normal bills and expenses, we also budgeted to save in some areas for the future. We will have separate accounts for Gifts (including next year's Christmas), Vehicle Maintenance, Vet Expenses, and Health (for those pesky copays and deductibles).

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Overall, we both feel much better now that we've worked it out together, and have it on paper and hanging on the fridge. I was surprised when DH randomly said "I'm glad that we did this." It's nice to know that we'll be there to support each other. He even drew a little cartoon, labeled "Budget Head" floating on a dollar bill, with the words "Stick to it!". He's the artsy one, I'm the numbers one. Smile

I gotta admit, it is a little disappointing to see that we only have $99 in the budget for extra debt payments or to add to the Emergency Fund. But then I have to realize, we are contributing 3% to our 401k's, saving $200/month in 4 separate accounts for future expenses, and we may have more flex money than we budgeted for, depending on if DH's overtime continues.

So... self pep talk. We are paying all the debts on time, and their balance is decreasing every month just with those minimum payments. Not as much as we'd like, but they are decreasing. And, we are saving for retirement. And, we are warding off future debt by saving that extra $200. And, we will put any little extra amount towards our $1,000 Emergency Fund, which may get funded earlier than I anticipate.

We can do it. Just gotta live like nobody else, so later we can live like nobody else. (credit to Dave Ramsey for that little motto, haha!)

3 Nagging Debts Gone

November 16th, 2009 at 10:00 am

Just wanted to update with a small success from today. I finally have a day off to do some much needed catching up, and took care of three small debts from before we moved. The AV, MVA, and Cable debts are now taken care of, a total of $412.60 paid off. Wish we had the money to pay all the debt off that quickly. Smile

I'm going to pay a few other bills and then work on updating our month-end numbers for October.

Back On The Wagon

November 16th, 2009 at 09:17 am

Let's try this again. We've tried monthly budgets before, and actually did fairly well paying down some debt. But, we always had the big expense of a wedding looming in our near future, so that dampened any enthusiasm we had for paying off debt or saving.

Now that we're post-wedding (just over one month married, yay) we can get back to business.

We're both 23, recently married and just moved back to our home state. We had moved away for my job, and earlier this year I was blessed with the opportunity to move back with the same company. I love my job, although it is challenging and stressful and I get paid for 40 hours/week even though I normally work 60+. The hope is that it will all be worth it in the end, when I get promoted and make more money.

DH also works full time, he was fortunate enough to land a decent job when we moved back. He doesn't make as much as he'd like, but he has done very well in his short time there, and talks of a promotion have started. For now, he is putting up with the boss, showing up early, and trying his best to get moved up.

I graduated college in 2008, DH has a few semesters of classes under his belt and the plan is for him to eventually go back for his Associate's at least.

We are definitely at a point in our life when we need to prioritize. We are renting right now, and if our jobs allow us to stay in the same area, we'd like to buy a home. Since we have a sizeable amount of debt and virtually no savings (other than my 401k), that is impossible right now.

We also want children at some point, and it gets a little more important to me every time I log on to facebook and see the adorable babies that my friends from high school and college and being blessed with. We aren't ready to have one right this moment, but I don't want finances to get in the way when we are.

On another note, I will need another vehicle at some point. Mine is ten years old, and has been VERY reliable to this point. However, in the past year we've had to replace the starter and the brakes, and I now need four new tires. The basic maintenance I don't mind, but it makes me realize that it won't last forever. We need to be prepared to get another one when the time comes.

So for now, a financial diet is in order. Hopefully we can stay focused and motivated by thinking of all the reasons we are scrimping to pay off debt and save where we can.

It will be difficult, especially since we just got married and moved into a new house, and there are alot of little things we still need. And of course, Christmas is on the horizon, with two big families to consider.

But, it makes me feel better just to have a budget in place, even if it will change in January when DH goes on my health insurance at work, or with the overtime he can get at work, etc. At least we are aware of our situation. My goal is to make the difference between our Investments and Debt a little better each month. Even if it's a dollar, at least it's a dollar better and not worse.

So here goes, back on the bandwagon.