Budgeting

on Thursday, December 3, 2009

We are still drawing up a budget and expect to make more changes after this month is over. We had a budget but completely fell off the wagon last month. This is the last month in this year and while many people wait until January to start over we decided that there is no time like the present to get our finances in order.

Income - $2350

Reoccurring Bills – $285

M’s Student Loan - $200

S's Credit Card - $50

E-fund- $150

O’s Savings- $5

Travel - $5

Gas - $170

Retirement - $65

O’s Class - $90

Groceries - $60 x 4 = $240
Phone - $55

Ez-pass - $30

Rent - $900

Electric - $50

What's left ($55) - Fun Money

Anything above the income amount will be transferred from our checking accounts to our E-fund via "Snowflake". A snow flake is any small amount of extra money we can use to either increase our savings or pay down debt. Right now, we are increasing our E-fund as it is under $1000. We are recommitted to saving up and hopefully will be there by our wedding anniversary.

-M

December Meal Plan

on Wednesday, December 2, 2009

We are attempting to plan a month worth of meals. Usually, we do not have a plan on Wednesday and Thursday because we're all out of the house or busy at dinner time. I'm working, S is sleeping and O is at Grandma Julie's.

December 1 - No plan

December 2 - Chili in the crock pot

December 3 - 5 - No plan. We are going to be out of town Friday and Saturday night.

December 6 - Hot Dogs with Mac and cheese and a veggie

December 7 - Baked Ziti or Stuffed Shells

December 8 - BBQ Pulled Pork

December 9-10 - No plan

December 11 - Pasta with marinated tomatoes and mozzarella

December 12 - Chicken Divan

December 13 - Out with BIL

December 14 - Meatloaf in Crock pot

December 15 - Veggie stir-fry with rice

December 16 - 17 - No plan

December 18 - Sweet and Sour Chicken

December 19 - Taco Pasta

December 20 - Quiche

December 21 - Veggie Lasagna

December 22 - Mac and Cheese

December 23 - 27 - No plan. We are eating at S's parents on Christmas and then visiting my parents for the weekend.

December 28 - Cheesey Broccoli Chicken with Rice

December 29 - Lentil Soup

December 30 - 31 - No plan

Here's to hoping we are able to stick to this more nights than we don't.

-M

Tomorrow!

on Monday, November 30, 2009

Tomorrow is DECEMBER! Can you believe that? December already! Our finances are awful. We have really fallen off the wagon lately and I have been spending much more than I should be. I'll figure out the final damage either tomorrow or the following day but I'm nervous to do so. Finances should not make me nervous. We have no real need to be nervous about our finances which only goes to prove that I failed to budget properly throughout November. Tomorrow starts a new month. Tomorrow starts a new budget. Tomorrow starts a new beginning on getting our finances back in order. Tomorrow we start working on our goals together for more tomorrows to come.

-M

Oh menu plan

on Sunday, November 29, 2009

why do you never work out? Our first week of menu planning was an epic fail. We did not stick to it at all. Let's try again...

Sunday - Tonight we had pork chops, spaghetti squash and mashed potatoes - so yummy!

Monday - Nothing planned... we ate the spaghetti squash tonight that I planned on making tomorrow tonight. Perhaps, Chili!

Tuesday - Crock pot Chicken Salsa

That is the extent of our menu plan this week. As always, Wednesday and Thursday are at Grandma's and then we are out of town Friday - Sunday!

Thanksgiving

on Thursday, November 26, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving!
I just wanted to check in and say Happy Thanksgiving to all of my readers. I'm working while S and O are at S's parents' house with his brothers. I'll join S at home when I'm done working to have some desert. I hope you have a great holiday.
-M

After a major freak out...

on Monday, November 23, 2009

we successfully had S's mom and oldest brother over for dinner last night. I have these issues I'm trying to work through and well lets just say yesterday they all came to a head. Let me start by saying the house was pretty clean but we still had dishes in the sink and toys on the floor and I was not thrilled about it. I wanted everything to be super clean when they came over. I have been feeling like if things aren't clean, organized, cooked well and presented nicely I am a failure as a wife and mom. I'm not sure where I got these ideas but it lead to a breakdown yesterday. Finally, I snapped and started yelling at S to help me because it was his family coming over and he started yelling back that I was freaking out for no reason, which was true as things were pretty clean.

Anyway, I made marinated chicken breast, roasted squash and green beans. All of which turned out very well. I wish the green beans were better but such is life I guess. Hopefully, I'll be not so crazy the next time we have visitors for dinner.

-M

Cooking Adventures

on Thursday, November 19, 2009

I'll be the first to admit I'm not the best chef. I can read and can follow a recipe so I'm slowly learning. If it didn't come from a box or require shake n bake my mom probably didn't make it so I never learned how to cook it. I'm being adventurous and trying many new things. I've picked out a bunch of recipes, planned days to make them, bought most of the ingredients and am hell bent on becoming a decent cook for my family.

This past week has been trial and error both in cooking and in planning. I planned meals for the upcoming weekend with the intentions of S planning for Monday and Tuesday and everyone eating out on Wednesday and Thursday. I went shopping Sunday night for some basics and hoped for the best. This didn't go so well and S was unable to child wrangle as well as work the stove. Tuesday I needed up putting something in the crock pot for him to serve at dinner time.

Let me also point out some scheduling factors we have while making the menu plan. Monday - Thursday I work til 11pm. S works Wednesday - Sunday starting at 10pm. O eats dinner at Grandma and Grandpa's on Wednesday and Thursday while Mommy works and Daddy sleeps.

Menu Plan for 11/16 - 11/26 (I shop on Fridays)
Monday - S was supposed to plan and cook. It ended up being hot dogs with a veggie stir-fry. Epic fail on the ability of S to watch O and cook at the same time.

Tuesday - After the night before fiasco I decided Mondays and Tuesdays will be crock pot meals set up by me before I leave at 12pm. Chicken Parm with S cooking the spaghetti when he was ready to serve. Thumbs Up!

Wednesday and Thursday - Dinner at Grandma's

Friday - Mexican Stuffed Shells

Saturday - Cabbage, Rice and Beans

Sunday - Marinated Chicken Breast with Squash and Salad

Monday - Spaghetti Squash with Tomatoes and Herbs

Tuesday - Egg, Cheese and Sausage Bake

Wednesday and Thursday - Dinner at Grandma's

So, there you have it, my first attempt at a menu plan and keep tuned it to see if we can follow it and how the meals turn out!

-M

New Home!

on Monday, November 16, 2009

We're in our new place... almost. Physically just about everything is in the apartment. We have a few straggling boxes at S's parents' house. Only 70% or so is put away which is a good deal but we are very busy during the week and were hoping to get more done this past weekend.

All of our groceries are put away and we are accessing what we still need to fully stock our pantry and freezer on items we like to keep in the house. I went shopping late last night which is the worst time to go because the shelves are almost empty. The store had none of the cheeses I wanted luckily I was able to get rain checks so I'll pick those up later in the week. S is washing all of our dishes today and after that the kitchen will be fully set up. We need to finish the living room. We have the TV, sofa, rocking chair and VCR in place but still need to hook up the DVD player, radio and Wii.

I did the laundry before we moved but never put it into drawers so that needs to be done pretty quickly before it starts getting mixed in with the dirty stuff and I have to wash everything over again. Possibly tomorrow morning. Things are moving into place quickly which is the way I like it because when they are out of order I tend to become a basket case.

-M

We're Moving!

on Wednesday, November 11, 2009

On Sunday! This explains the lack of postings and lack of state of the finances update. We'll be skipping the finances this month and begin again in December with an awful drop in net worth. We spend more than we would have liked buying things to set up our new place. I'm disappointed but also not at the same time because much of the stuff that we bought is good quality and will last a long while. We could have saved here and there on some things but had to replace them much sooner which would most likely cost us more in the long run. I'll give you some rough numbers: We spent about $300 on household items such as dishes, pots/pans, towels, rugs, appliances and so forth. We spent $75 on setting up the pantry so far. We fully intend on spending a large chunk (over $100) either Sunday or Monday when we go shopping and after that we are down to a much smaller weekly grocery budget. We are also renting a moving van to move items from my parents house about 190 miles away to our apartment. This will cost just over $100. Moving sure is expensive especially when it is your first actual apartment.

-M

Tot School!

on Thursday, November 5, 2009

Tot School
We have so much to update you on! Since we missed our tot school updates the last few weeks I’ll start with those and continue to post little updates throughout next week. We have been busy during Tot School plus we took a field trip. We spent some time building with blocks. While we were doing this we were learning color, letter, number and animal recognition. She currently knows the letter O and most of her colors. We are still working on the rest and they will come with time. This is also good for hand eye coordination.

We love our play dough. We play with it multiple times every day. We had green, red, yellow and blue but they dried out so we bought new play dough on our field trip to Toys R US where we met Plex. We came home with two shades of pink, teal and purple. (All picked out by O) Most of the time play dough is used to increase her fine motor skills but occasionally we have a little throwing which is a gross motor skill. Ho Hum, can’t keep it all on the table.

This is PLEX from Yo Gabba Gabba. O loves this show but not people in costumes dressed up as people from her favorite show. She would not go anywhere near him to have her picture taken. Such is life with a 17 month old. We were expecting other characters from PBS as well as Nick Jr to be there as well but we waited around for 20 minutes and no one else showed up so we checked out and headed to AC Moore. After AC Moore we checked back in Toys R Us and didn't see anyone else. I was disappointed and O didn't have any idea she was missing out on anything.

After trick or treating and candy eating we created a homemade drum set out of the candy containers and some lollipops that no one really wants to eat. We experimented with using both ends of the lollipops and decided that we like hitting the pot with the stick end better than the pop end. We learned that the pot makes a different noise than the plastic pumpkin. Most of all we learned that drums are very noisy when other members of the family are sleeping.




There you have it! That’s what we’ve been learning at Tot School!

Apartment Hunting

on Tuesday, October 27, 2009

We have been keeping our eye out for apartments in our neighborhood. There is one across the street that had a moving truck outside but when we asked if someone was moving out we were told no and there is one down the block. I met with the landlord of the down the block apartment today and it was not the most plesant experience I've ever had. Let's just say we'll probably keep looking but S is going to call him back to follow up.

-M

Not feeling well!

on Wednesday, October 21, 2009

I haven't been feeling well since Thursday. It started out as a sore throat which went on to be cough. Yesterday, I took a day off of work because I had the voice of someone that had been smoking and drink straight scotch for 50 years. Today, I'm feeling better but still not 100%. I have a headache and a lingering cough.

Yesterday, I finished knitting a pair of mittens using my own pattern as I couldn't find one to fit her hand. They are a bit long but that's ok as she won't even put them on. She starts to shake her head and yell no when I get any where near her with them. Hopefully, she'll try them on before she out grows them. I'm very proud that I was able to finish the hat and mittens without putting them down for a different project. I've had a blanket in the works for awhile now. I'm going to work on that some more before I start yet another project.

-M

Work and Hobbies

on Tuesday, October 13, 2009

While we haven't been any busier this week than we have in past weeks we experienced a big change and a hobby resurgence. S went back to work (at least one of us has been unemployed for the past 16 months) and I started knitting again.

S going back to work has created some mixed feelings from everyone. O now has both parents in the work force which is something she's never had before. I'm upset at the shift. S is upset he can't spent more time with us. We're both happy to have more money coming in. It is one of those situations in which you are damned if you do but even more damned if you don't.

Back to the more exciting stuff, knitting. I have been knitting on and off since high school. I taught myself using internet instructions. I bought a how to book as well as a kit to get started with and just couldn't figure out the darned pictures. I did end up learning the basic knit stitch and just like Ellen Page, I've made a bunch of scarves and attempted a hat which has a massive hole in the top. That is until this weekend! I attempted to make O a hat and it turned out nicely. It is very hard to see in the picture but it is a multi colored hat (purple, blue and green, 959) with a royal purple (596) trim. I'm not a big fan of the yarn itself but I had it around the house. She loves holding the hat and carrying it around but doesn't really like it on her head. I'm hoping she'll warm up to it. My next project is going to be a set of matching mittens... wish me luck!

-M

Money

on Tuesday, October 6, 2009


Money
Originally uploaded by Leaca's Philosophy


I can honestly say I am shocked at the numbers for September! Our net worth went up when I fully expected it to continue to fall. I have come to realize that I haven't been counting my retirement fund in our net worth statements. I'm going to continue to not count it and while this may paint a skewed picture of our net worth we are not using that money for another oh 40 years so it is not in our every day thoughts. I'm going to keep it to banking accounts that we can access as well as debts.

Our E-fund is up a bit from $149 to $675. We are working our way to our long term goal slowly but we'll get there if we keep chugging along.

We did a deposit in O's savings account this month. We are not depositing every month so a lot of times this doesn't change. We deposited $60 to bring her to a total of $300.50. She also has $30 in her piggy bank in bills as well as a good deal of change. This will get deposited this month. Usually we do it all at once but S and I had a bit of a mix-up regarding who was depositing the check.


Our travel fund is down and down a lot! We used this money to pay for S's college tuition this month. He is paid in full for the semester and it is his last semester. This was not something I was willing to put on a credit card when we had the cash in the bank. Vacations will come and go but not more paying interest on college tuition than necessary is golden at this point.

Retirement stayed the same at 4% for September but I changed the deposit amount to 5% as of this past Sunday so that will have an increase in the October amounts.

M's Student Loan is down, of course, to just under $15,000 which was our goal for 2009! WOOHOO! We should have about $500 more paid off by the time January rolls around. I am excited about this but also know that we should be saving a little bit more. I'll think about changing how much I'm sending to my student loan this month and report back next month. S's student loan remains the same.

Our net worth, as I said, has gone up. It wasn't much but any improvement makes my heart and pocket happy. We are up to -$26,330 from -$26,740. As I said, it wasn't much of an improvement but I fully expected a decrease.

So, there you have it! Our monthly check in... a little late but due to illness it was to be expected.

-M

Visiting My Parents

on Saturday, October 3, 2009

As I've posted before, we are living with S's parents because S was unemployed for the past ten months. S started his new job yesterday and we're hoping to move out by our first wedding anniversary in March, if not a little sooner. I don't particularly enjoy living with S's parents and while I'm very grateful to have them to help us out in this time of need it makes me miss my own parents even more. I haven't always had the best relationship with my mom but I think all women go through that at some point. However, having O has changed things. While I'm annoyed that she wants to buy her toys every time she sees her, it has certainly made us closer. S's parents live three hours from my parents but we visit my parents often. In fact, I'm typing this from my parents' home computer. Visiting my parents has always been a priority for me even while away at college. I was the girl that went home at least once a month in addition to holidays and vacations. Now, we try to visit my parents twice a month. I'd like to cut it down a bit but then feel guilty that they will not see O as often and as my mom always reminds me, "She's only little once." We will continue to visit often so that O can have a great relationship with both sets of grandparents. S and I never had that option as our grandparents died while we were young. Well, that's not entirely true. S had his paternal grandmother until earlier this year. His mother did not get along with her and she lived a few states away so he did not see her often plus his mother's opinion of her strained their relationship. I think a part of parenthood is wanting your children to have what you didn't and that's why I visit my parents so often. I'm hoping she has a great relationship with all of her sets of grandparents.

-M

Tot School Delay!

on Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Tot School
We were supposed to start Tot School this week. We are both very sick with massive sinus infections. My poor kiddo can hardly breath and I don't want to pick my head up off the table. I can only imagine how she is feeling because she is unable to vocalize her symptoms and I'm a whining wreck. I'm sure that everyone that tries to home school runs into these issues. We will have to see if we are feeling better within the next few days. If so, we'll start and if not, we might need to delay a week. It seems like I keep delaying this and might make you wonder how committed I am. I want to be honest in saying I'm so excited to do this with O but it seems we keep running into road blocks. She is just about 16 months old so she is still young for formalized learning which makes delaying tot school a little less of a bummer for me. Hopefully, we'll be feeling better quickly and can finally do some of the tot school activities I have planned.
-M

Yummy Apple Butter!

on Sunday, September 27, 2009


As you can see O loved it! It was all over the place. She stuck her cracker in to her small cup of apple butter and licked the cracker clean. She eventually ate the cracker once the apple butter was gone.










From Left to Right:
Cinnamon Applesauce, Spicy Apple Butter, Not so Spicy Apple Butter, Applesauce and Raspberry Jam

We were able to get 2 quarts of apple sauce and 1.5 quarts of apple butter out of our remaining apples on Wednesday night. We have finally used up all of the apples. Yesterday, S's mom made two apple sauce cakes using our homemade apple sauce. Yummy!

A little late!

on Thursday, September 24, 2009

Tot School
This week I trying to assess O to see what she needs to work on most. She is beginning to learn her colors but each week it seems she picks a color and then everything is that color. This week everything is blue. The conversation goes a little something like this:
Mommy: "What color is this?" (a red ball)
O: "Blue"
Mommy: "No, it's a red ball"
Mommy: "How about this one? What color is this ball?" (green)
O: "Blue ball"
Mommy: "No, it's green"
O: "Green"
Mommy: "Yes, green"
O: "Blue ball" (handing me a yellow ball)
Last week everything was yellow. She meeting and suprassing the doctor's expectations in physical development. I will continue to assess her as best I can this week and next week we'll start with our themes.
-M

Have you ever wondered...

on Friday, September 18, 2009

about the person that had your phone number before you? Today, I received two phone calls for a woman named Judy. I've had my phone number for over a year and I also know that the college student that had my phone number before me was not named Judy. I only know this because when I first was given this number I receive a lot of phone calls for Jenn about school projects. The calls for Judy had me wondering on my three hour car ride about her and the man that was trying to get in touch with her. Was this Judy's number at one time? If so, how long ago could it have since at least one other person had the number before me that was not Judy? If this was an important person in Judy's life shouldn't she have given him her new phone number? If not, why is this man trying to get in touch with her now after years?

Then again it is completely possible he just misdialed twice.

-M

Our Harvest

on Wednesday, September 16, 2009

I'm disappointed that I didn't take a picture of all of this fruit when we got home from the orchard. I think it would have been a great picture to have for memory sake. I did not weigh the items that were given to us so I can't honestly say how much we got from the CSA but I did weigh all of the produce we picked at the farm.



The Totals:
Plums: 3.5 pounds
Green Beans: 3.2 pounds
Strawberries: .5 pounds
Raspberries: 3.8 pounds
Red Peppers: 5.7 pounds
and for the big finale
Apples: 43 pounds!

So far we've made:
1 loaf of Apple Bread
17 Raspberry/Apple Muffins
5 pints of Raspberry Jam
4 pints of Applesauce and
3 pints of Apple Butter

And there is more to come... (with pictures)

Tot School!

on Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Tot School
After the nice introduction to Tot School last week I'm sure you expected to see pictures, read lessons and be inspired but that is not going to happen this week. When one becomes a mom one tends to fall victim to mommy brain once in a while. I completely forgot that O was going on vacation from Friday of last week until Sunday of this coming weekend. We went to my parents' house Friday-Sunday. O is staying with my parents until Friday morning then I'll be joining her for the rest of the weekend. We will arrive back home on Monday morning and Tot School will resume on Tuesday (9/22).
-M

This Weekend!

on Monday, September 14, 2009

Thursday


The Orchard II
Originally uploaded by OneEyedJax

We had an eventful weekend to say the least. It started Thursday for me because I took the day off from work. Thursday was our four year dating anniversary so we went out to dinner. We brought our little pumpkin along to The Curry Club which is just as it sounds, a restaurant that specializes in curried foods. I was a bit nervous doing this as O has never had curry before and is working her way out of an eating pattern similar to a food jag but not as severe. She has been subsisting on bread, milk and the occasional watermelon. As per usual O behavior, she surprised me. She had curried goat and not only did she eat it but ate it at such a rapid pace I could not cut it fast enough.

Friday

Friday was uneventful actually. We drove three hours upstate to visit with my parents. We stayed at my parents' house with my brother and his girlfriend. When we got to my parents' house we found out that my mom was given of her friend's share of the local CSA. My mom was uninterested in much of the vegetables and so I was able to bring them home with me. She gave us 4 peppers, 1 head of lettuce, 1 quart of green beans, 3 quarts of small tomatoes, 5 large tomatoes, a handful of basil and a handful of another leafy green I've never heard of. The CSA also included a broccoli and a cantaloupe which my parents kept. I feel like I'm forgetting something else, either way it was all free to me which is awesome! My brother just bought Rock Band and we spent most of the evening playing after O went to sleep.

Saturday

We went to a graduation party. I've been to many parties at my best friends' house but S and O never have. O came for a short while before the crowd became a little out of control and my parents took her home to go to sleep. The party turned into a large drunken mob after dark and I was ready to leave. We hung around for cake but I was really ready to leave by that time and took my cake for the road.

Sunday

Sunday was the best day of all the days on my long weekend. Well, minus when I found out my car needed a small repair. However, my stepfather was able to do this free of charge! WOOHOO! S, O and I went to the local orchard and picked a lot of fruits and a few vegetables. We ended up spending $56 which is more than we intended but are very happy with the results. We picked apples first. O seemed to pick up more rotten ones off the ground than ripe ones off the low branches of the trees. It was her first time and she's only 15 months old so she's forgiven this time but next year she better pull it together. I'm only kidding. She had a huge smile for the first hour or so. Next, we picked raspberries. I was nervous about bringing O into the raspberry patch because of the thorns but she carried the basket for Mommy smoshing one handful at a time. We loaded O back into the car to drive to a different spot in the orchard and she fell asleep. One of us sat in the car and the other picked the fruits and vegetables for the rest of the time at the orchard. S and I were shocked when we weighed the produce. We had no idea how much we actually picked.

Stay tooned post to follow with the totals of our trip and what we've made so far!

-M

A new idea!

on Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Tot School

We are going to try something new, something fun, something called Tot School! O turned 15 months old today and I feel like we are not providing her enough educational opportunities. She attends a gymnastics class once a week which at her age is more or less ten or so tots running around, climbing on stairs, sliding down slides and hardly interacting with each other except to bop each other with a rain stick during music time. This is exactly what we expected when we signed her up for the class but a trip to the play ground once a week can teach her the same things for free with no bopping. We will be keeping her in the gymnastics class because she hardly sees other children.

Anyway, I'm on a tangent now. Back to tot school! I feel, which may just be my first two years as an education major speaking, that she needs a little more loosely structured activities throughout her morning as opposed what we're currently doing. As I have posted before, I am a full-time working mommy but I work evenings four days a week so I have plenty of time for some Tot School in the mornings with her before Grandma takes over. I am still in the process of planning our Tot School curriculum for the next few months and I'm sure whatever I plan now will be changed as we go along. I am hoping to fully plan two days of planned Tot School each week with reinforcements the rest of the days. I'm going to try to cover as many areas as possible without being overwhelming for either O or myself. Once I'm able to get a rough idea of what we're going to be working on I'll post it.

I'm so looking forward to this special time with O.

-M

Happy Labor Day!

on Monday, September 7, 2009

Today is a holiday which means a day off of work for most but not for me. I don't absolutely need to work but it is holiday pay which will dramatically help bring the e-fund back up after last month. Most days, I enjoy my job but today I don't feel well and would much rather pop in a DVD, cuddle up with my one year old on the couch and fall asleep.

I haven't felt well all weekend which caused some of our plans to get thrown out the window. We planned to go apple picking on Saturday so I could make some applesauce along with some apple baked goods. We weren't able to go because I was so sick. On the upside, it is very early in the apple harvesting season here in New York so there will be just as many if not more apples to choose from next weekend. We were able to go to the county fair on Sunday. I continued to blow my nose every five seconds while the rest of my family played games and had a great time.

Hopefully, I'll feel better soon! We have plans that I'm looking forward to later this week as well as apple picking this up coming weekend.

State of the Finances

on Thursday, September 3, 2009

September - current as of 9/3/09

Savings:
Emergency Fund: We used a large portion of this to pay S's college tuition this semester so we are down a lot. Our balance comes to a measly $149.

Travel Fund: We used $1000 to pay down S's credit card. We are down to $1305. We are not going to reach our goal and will need to reevaluate our vacation plans in the next few months.

M's Retirement: Still chugging along at 4% of my income.

S's Retirement: Still unemployed so he has not opened an account yet.

O's College: We had a couple of deposits which increased this to $240. We will surpass our current goal. Hopefully, we'll be able to reach our stretch goal. This is one area where we are not funneling any extra money right now and most of her deposits have been gifts from family members.

Debt:
S's Credit Card (Our #1 Enemy): We paid off $1300 this month so we are down to a balance of $300 which will be paid off next month!

M's Student Loan: We are ahead of our target of $15,000 for this goal. It is down to $15,065 and will be under the goal after this month's payment. We will not get to our stretch goal but hopefully we'll knock a few hundred more off by the end of the year.

S's Student Loan: He's still in deferment due to being in school so this hasn't changed and won't for a few more months.

Net worth:
Our net worth has gone down yet again this month. We are making progress with our debts but S's student loan interest bill came in the mail last month and that was tacked on to his loan there for our net worth went down instead of up. We are at -$26,740. Even with our net worth going down we are thrilled by our progress for the month and can't wait to see what next month brings.

-M

We're Back!

on Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Welcome to September!
We just got back from our vacation on Monday morning. Since then things have continued to be hectic as the end of a vacation can cause. This morning I washed five loads of laundry, none of which have been folded. That will just have to get done some other time. I'm still working on getting all of our finances in order so look for that post in the up coming days. Today, I took a large portion of our travel fund and paid most of S's credit card off. Together, we decided that the money is not earning enough interest in the savings account to counter act paying the interest on his credit card and so we pretty much wiped the card clean. Now that his card is just about paid off we should see some improvement in our savings accounts in the up coming months. We, finally, feel like we are moving in the right direction.

-M

Busy August

on Monday, August 24, 2009

We are having a busy August. It started with S's birthday on the 9th and continues to become more and more busy. I have let myself become overwhelmed at work because of lack of focus on my actual job so last week I had to play catch up. It seems like every weekend we are going some place and doing something. We try to go to the beach at least once a week. This past weekend we went to the scottish games. We've visited my parents twice and they live three hours away. Tomorrow I'm having some major dental work done and then Wednesday we are on the road again going to my father's house which is nine hours from our house. Today is the first day of the college semester so things are just going to become more busy for S as he starts his final semester. Hopefully, after this vacation things will calm down a bit and I'll begin to post more often again.

-M

S's Birthday

on Tuesday, August 11, 2009

This past week was a spendy week for us. We went out to dinner and then for drinks on Saturday for S's birthday. We are trying to cut back a bit on extras but for us we always celebrate birthdays. We had a great time and don't regret the money we spent, even if it was $100 on food.

-M

State of the Finances

on Wednesday, August 5, 2009

I'm a little late in updating this month but we were out of town this past weekend. July was not a good month and the way August is going it won't be either. We had some major bills to pay off in July (car insurance, college tuition, etc.). We are not expecting any bills such as those this month but have some travel planned as well as a S's birthday. We are going to try to do the best we can to save as much as possible on those things but we'll see what happens. We saved for them but now are second guessing using our savings for traveling instead of paying off more of the credit card. This is something I'm struggling with as I know we should go, have fun and visit family but want the debt gone as quickly as possible. We shall see how the month pans out.

Savings:
E-fund: We are down to next to nothing due to S's still being unemployed and needing to pay his car insurance and college tuition for the next semester. While it was nice to have the savings and not have to use the credit card it still hurt dearly to see the account plummet to $158.

Travel fund: No changes

Retirement: No changes

O's Savings: No changes

Debt:
S's Credit Card: We paid off a little bit this month bringing us down to $1520. We will continue to pay off little by little but our focus now is rebuilding the e-fund.

M's Student Loan: Down to $15,125. We are making slightly extra payments to pay it down a little quicker. We rounded up to the closest hundred which means we are paying an extra $16 each month.

S's Student Loan: We received his interest notice in the mail recently. It said pay such amount or tack it on to your loan. We tacked it on to the loan as we drained our e-fund and had no place to get the extra cash. His loan went up to $20,750 or just about $1,500. This is certainly not something we like but was necessary at the time.

Net Worth:
With S being out of work as I've said already, our net worth continues to fall. This just goes to show that I can not carry our family on my income and am looking at alternatives as well as encouraging S to find a job as quickly as possible. July was the worst month as far as net worth but we did not go into extra consumer debt. We spent more money for S to finish college. Our net worth is -27,040 and falling.

Reading... A lost art form?

on Wednesday, July 29, 2009


Originally uploaded by Lochaven

Every time we visit the library it is busy. Which brings to to the question, is reading a lost art or is it just as alive as in previous generations? With the amount of technology available do people read real books any more? Apparently so, according to our local library's website they serve over 1,000 people a day.

My daughter (14 months) loves books. She will sit in her recliner for minutes at a time and look at books. Which to any parent of a one year old knows keeping them still for any amount of time is a miracle. I am an avid reader but S is not. How do you prove to a 14 month old that reading real books made of paper is important when one parent does not read books? In fact, he hardly reads magazines, blogs or newspapers either. We both agree that reading is important and want her to read as much as I do. We continue to read to her everyday and provide books. We will continue to make visits to the library. We will continue to do all that we can to foster a love of books and pray that it happens in her.

-M

Obesity and Child Abuse

on Wednesday, July 22, 2009


Obesity and Child Abuse seems to be the new it thing. Is it or isn't it child abuse is the question? I have to say I can see both sides. I can understand state officials saying if your child is significantly overweight or obese then the parents are not correctly providing for their child's needs. No one gets that overweight without having the ability to access excess food. However, I can also understand that some areas are lacking a proper nutritional education. I was in shock when I ready the article though. The article points to a case I feel is child abuse; but, taking the child away from the parent and jailing the parent is not the outcome I'd like to see in a situation such as this. I think that both the parent/s and child should be required to take mandatory nutrition classes. One might ask how will they pay for such a thing? I would suggest their county health department probably offers informational nights or could point them in the correct direction. I would also like the child to be seen by a nutritionist to create a nutrition plan that the court orders the child follow and to report for weigh-ins often. The parent and child would have to participate in this program for a stated amount of time and if significant changes are not made then more severe consequences should be explored. This would be an expensive solution for the county they live in but would save many dollars in health care later on, which in my opinion makes it worth it.

-M

(Link to original article is in the title)

Budgeting

on Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Once again we are not sticking to our budget. We are over in many categories and not because of unexpected events. I think that it isn't for lack of trying. I honestly think our budget does not work and our spending limits are not reasonable. With this realization we have come to the conclusion that we need to do some serious reworking to our budget. Keep your eyes out for a new budget coming next week!

As with most money management issues, budgeting is a live and learn experience. We are working to create a real working budget but it is going to take months to get things just right and even then it will not work 100% of the time.

-M

In Light of the Last Post

on Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Having reviewed our goals that we set in January and realizing that we're not going to reach many of them we have decided to change a few of them. Check out the side bar for the new updates!

-M

Yearly Goals

Yearly Goals Mid Year Check-in

Now that 2009 is half way over, I'd like to reexamine our goals we set out to accomplish. I wanted to get this done earlier in the month but things came up as they tend to do with my blog writings. Let's start with savings.

Emergency Fund: I'd like to say that we're going to accomplish this goal the end of August like we set out but we're not going to be able to. I am going to be emptying this account out in a few weeks to pay some bills. We have semiannual bills that need to be paid this month. Unfortunately, we did not anticipate S to be out of work for so long and the money needs to come from some where. This is what emergency funds are for anyway. Ho Hum! We will need to start rebuilding this next month but not at the rate we were before. -FAIL

Travel Fund: Again due to S being out of work, saving for this goal is on a hiatus. -FAIL

M's Retirement: This is the only goal that is on target. We will be increasing the contributions by 1% in October. - On track

S's Retirement: He is currently not working and does not have an account right now. Only time will tell with this goal. - ???

O's College Savings: We are on track with this goal but are going to lower our transfer amount for the next couple of months to rebuild the emergency fund. - On track

S & M Net Worth: We are not getting any where close to our goal here, we are about $10,000 short. I am only hoping we make it back to where we were in January at this point. We may be able to get back on track and accomplish some of our longer term goals but our goal for this year is a big fat FAIL

Now on to debt.
S's Credit Card: We are on track with this and should be able to have it paid off by the end of October. - On track

M's Student Loans: We are currently on track with this goal as well. We made a decision a few months back to send slightly more than the minimum payment so it is helping us to reach this goal. - On track

S's Student Loans: Nothing to report - In Deferment

Medical Bills - PAID IN FULL

Overall, we are not going to make very many of our savings goals but are going to hit all of our debt goals. While it is a bit upsetting that we are so far from our savings goals knowing we will hit and rid ourselves of credit card debt makes the savings goals not feel as far away.

-M

Money and Marriage

on Tuesday, July 7, 2009

As we all know, S and I were married this past March. As newlyweds, we have come to realize we have a lot of issues that we did not talk through before we got married, which is a whole different post for a whole different day. This has caused us to reexamine how we deal with money and also how we discuss financial matters. We have similar spending styles but that's about where the similarities end regarding financial matters.

Before we were married, neither of us spend more than we can afford but we did this differently. I had a reoccurring bills account which I put a set amount into each month for bills that happen irregularly. I also tracked every purchase I made in budgeting software and balanced all of my accounts each month, not only the checkbook. S didn't do any this. He would spent as he saw fit and then use a whole paycheck to pay the car insurance when it came due or for Christmas presents. He never checked his statements against his checkbook registry because he never had a checkbook registry. He never missed a payment or a holiday so this must have worked for him for for me it would have been disastrous.

Now, that we're married we've both had to make changes in this area. To make things work as smoothly as possible, we each have maintained our own accounts. I use my checking account to pay the bills because I can't handle yet another account on top of our numerous savings accounts. I use mostly cash for my fun money as it keeps my spending in check and does not allow for me to accidentally use money set aside for bills. He uses his checking account for all of his purchases other than bills such as gas and fun money. I handle paying all of the bills but he is clued in on what is due when and knows how to use my budgeting software if necessary. This is an area where he doesn't mind giving up control and I thank him for this. I'm a bit of a control freak and if I didn't physically pay the bills I'd worry constantly that they were not getting paid.

As we become more accustom to marriage and settled into our own apartment this may change. We have some pretty extensive financial goals we would like to accomplish in a short period of time and once we do this our money management system may change. For now, this system is working for us and we are comfortable with it.

-M

Happy Fourth of July Weekend!

on Sunday, July 5, 2009


I'm a day late as usual but wanted to say Happy 4th Weekend!

Yesterday, all three of us went to the park. I was stung by a bee and my foot is a nice shade of purple. O on the other hand love the park and had a great time! We had a cookout with my parents-in-law. We made a Key Lime Pie as well. Yummy!

Today, O and I made pancakes while S took a nap. Now, O is napping. When O wakes up we're going to go to a different park. Hopefully, it will have fewer bees, my feet will be thankful.

-M

Changes

on Thursday, July 2, 2009

We are renovating so if things look screwy please come back soon and they will be back to normal.

-M

Updated - 7/3
The changes are complete. They are not only to the layout of the site but also to the content. I'm going to focus the content on a more personal/family level. I'll still include our monthly financial report as well as a budgeting check-in mid-month but I want to include stories from our life.

State of the Finances

As we all know it is the second of the month and so it is time for an update!

All in all, June was a decent month. We had a few major expenses such as car insurance but were able to split the payment in two so we need to make a payment on that this month as well.

Savings: We were able to make some contributions to these accounts. I would like to have seen a bigger improvement here but with our budgeting skills lacking we spent money we shouldn't have. Onward and upward from here.

Emergency Fund: An increase of 39.24 - we added $38 to make it a cool $1000 and then added a little in interest

Travel Fund: An increase of .25 - not somewhere to put money when we have bigger bills to take care of

Retirement: I'm not going to track these accounts very closely as I'd rather not keep too close of an eye on them since they are long term investments. I'll just say that I opened the account but this first automatic payment did not come out yet so the balance is still $0.

O's Savings: In June she celebrated her first birthday! She was given some monetary gifts which were added to her savings account which brings the total up by $90 or almost doubling her account in one month. She will not be seeing such an increase in savings for a while.

Our Net Worth: While it is not back to where it was in January and we are probably not going to make our short term goal we are making some progress. Right now, my hopes are to have the net worth back to where it was in January by the end of the year. As of the end of June it stands at -$25,299.25 or an increase of almost $300. July will be better than this. I expected our net worth to go down with the major bills paid in June so I'm pleasantly surprise.

Debt: We did not do so well in this category in June. We had a slight increase in credit card debt. We should have a bit of extra money this month which will be thrown at the credit card. I want it gone as soon as possible.

S's Credit Card: The total for this is $1640 or an increase of $90. I can't account for this but it won't happen again.

M's Student Loan: This total for this is $15,325. This is a decrease of $123. I am paying a bit more than the minimum payment to make it a nice round number. I don't expect this bill to be paid off any time soon so each month we just keep chipping away at it.

As the previous months, S's Student Loans are still in deferment as he's still in school. The first payment will be due in December.

Here's to the hopes I have better things to report come August!

-M

Tentative Budget for July

on Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Well, we really aren't working with much money right now. We will need to dip into our Emergency Fund this month as S is out of work much longer than we thought he'd be and do not have enough to cover our car insurance. I can continue to cover all of the rest of the bills plus pay extra to his credit card as well as put a little in savings but did not save for car insurance accordingly. So, I'm going to take the money out of the E-fund so we do not have to hold it on our credit cards and replenish the E-fund as quickly as possible.

On to the budget:
Income - $1280

Reoccurring Bills (car insurance, gifts, car maintenance, etc.) - $330
M's Student Loan - $200
S's Credit Card - $255
E-fund - $25
O's Savings - $25
Travel Savings - $25
Baby Expenses - $100 (diapers, milk, etc.)
Gasoline - $140
Retirement - $50 (I know this should be more, its just slightly under 4% of my income)
Fun Money - $40
O's Gym Class - $90

So, there you have it. Our meager budget for July. I know we do not have any housing expenses right now as we are very lucky to have these paid for us but will in the near future need to start paying them ourselves and then will need to revamp the budget. At that time we will have more income and revamping the budget shouldn't take too much work.

Wish us luck!

-M

Happy Birthday to ME!

on Monday, June 22, 2009

Today is my birthday. As a birthday present to myself I blew our June budget. Ok, I'm kidding about it being a present to myself but our June budget is pretty much toast. This also happened in May! Last week, my budgeting software crashed and we lost all of our information. This all could have been avoided if I backed it up as I should have but I didn't. I'm in the process of setting everything back up and recommiting to our budget. I will be back in posting action soon as well as tracking our spending.

-M

Editor Note: I forgot to mention that I opened my Roth IRA yesterday!

101 Things in 1001 Days

on Wednesday, June 10, 2009

I certainly have not been keeping this updated as I should. I haven't even been working on it as I should and probably should start saving up my dollars to donate at the end. Let's start from the top and go through if the goals are achievable or not.

I'll start by saying that all of the travel that I included is not going to be possible. Yes I know I have almost three years to do it all but even in three years it will not be possible. Cape Cod, Graceland, Mark Twain House, Dude Ranch, Country Music, Football Hall of Fame, Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and the Liberty Bell are probably not places that I'm going to see in the next two years and six months. Everything else, should be doable. As far as travel abroad, I doubt we'll go any where besides Germany. So, Italy and France sight seeing will not get done.

Then we move into the time consuming activities. We do have an idea of when we're going to be moving to our own apartment, keep an eye out in the next six to nine months for an update on this. Pay off debt well that wasn't very specific. It does not say credit card debt it says debt so by that I assume I meant all debt and that is entirely impossible. Together, S and I, have a large sum of student loan debts as you can see from the side bar. We will not be able to pay these off in the few short years we have until this goal session is finished. I have to say that I have been doing very well with cards on holidays. We have a few friends with birthdays coming up so we need to get those cards in the mail by the end of the week. As far as the reunion party, that will have to wait. It probably will not happen in the next two and a half years.

We created a budget. We have been unsuccessful at using the budget well, we'll keep trying and by the end of the year we hope to have a good handle on this. Along with failing at budgeting, I have failed at keeping my fun money spending down to $50. Next month, this will be my number one goal, money wise. We are going to need to use half of our emergency fund savings this month but will continue to build toward our $10,000 goal starting next month.

I have been baking at least once a month so far. This is an activity I really like to do and plan to continue to do it. I also have been making larger breakfasts now that O can eat grown up food and S is home. We have not gone to church yet and so we have made no progress toward getting O baptized. We need to seriously start working on both of these things because O is now a year old. I can proudly say that we have been putting forth an effort to read a story to O each day. I tried to read a book to her each morning and S reads to her in the afternoon. Most days she gets two or three books. Her attention span isn't very long and it is difficult to get her to sit and listen to the stories. Most often we are reading to her when she is playing with something else.

S and I had a discussion about end of life paper work last week. He doesn't see the importance of having it now. I stressed that it is important and want to get working on it. This will take more convincing I'm sure but we should see progress in this area soon. The retirement account... I am going to open an IRA on June 22. It will be the day I turn 24. I'll post about that once it happens.

Oh, health and fitness, how I long for you and yet do not put forth enough effort. I am not training for any runs right now. I don't think I'll be taking dance lessions any time soon but hopefully I'll be able to squeeze something in. We tried a new burger place not that long ago. I need to update that on the side bar. I am making progress there. I have not bought soda in the past few months. I am only drinking free soda and soda when dining out. I got an amazing cookbook for Christmas two years ago. I have been adding recipes to this cookbook as it is three ring style when I try something I like. I think that counts. I am not putting forth enough effort to lose weight at this time. I have been tracking what I'm eating and will be choosing better food starting in the morning. I have not been working out. This will be a fail because I have lacked doing it for so many months already. I will need to start implementing an exercise routine though. I will update on this later as well. Even though the exercise isn't going as planned, I have been drinking my water most days. Celebrate my little accomplishment.

I'm going to end my update here. I know that's not all 101 goals. I will do another major update next month with the second half of the goal list. As you can see, overall I have not made much progress on any of these goals. I need to seriously start deciding which I need to focus my energy on first and do so.

-M

State of the Finances

on Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Here it is June already! We have three birthdays and Father's Day this month.

Savings:
Emergency Fund: Last month we had $586 in there and this month we have $962. That is an increase of $376. We are working on getting to $1000 to start and eventually $10,000. I know the sidebar says $1,500 by August and we're not going to hit that goal. We're going to stop putting so much in after we reach $1,000 because I want to focus on S's credit card.

Travel Fund - We are focusing on S's credit card and the emergency fund right now. We only transfered $5 into this account this month.

I still haven't called about my retirement account. I will do this during June! I won't be able to put much into it at first but hope to be able to work up to 15% quickly.

O's Savings - We opened the account with $100.50 from her piggy bank. We are putting 75% of her birthday money into the account this month. We will use the other 25% to buy some toys. While she wouldn't know if we put it all in the account considering her age, we want to use this formula each year with her so we decided to start now.

Net worth - $25,585

Debts:
We didn't acquire any more debt this month! WOOHOO!

S's credit card - We were able to put $650 toward it this month to get the balance down to $1,550. I am expecting it to take three more months to pay off completely. It is tempting to use our emergency fund to pay it off this month but won't do it in case we have an actual emergency. It is far better to have the fund to rebuild than to have more credit card debt.

The medical bills are paid off as of Monday! The check has been cashed and we are all clear of medical bills. I'm counting this as being paid in May though because I mailed the check out in May.

We are paying my student loan bills on time each month. While the balance isn't going down very quickly it is moving down. We paid off $110 this month. We have decided to pay an extra $18 per month to make the payment a nice round number. It doesn't seem like $18 would make much of a difference but using this calculator we figured out we'd have my loans paid off 9 months earlier than if we paid the minimum payments. While 9 months isn't all that significant in a ten year repayment plan it is something to look forward to. S's student loans are in deferment until December '09.

Til next time,
-M

Lack of Posting

on Monday, May 18, 2009

I haven't been posting as much lately. I have noticed that when I post more I spend less. I'm sure this is related because as I post I feel more accountable for what I'm spending. As I'll show in about two weeks, my budget plan did not work. I have spent way more than I should in some categories. Overall, I've made more money but instead of snowflaking it away I spent it. Now is the time to turn things around. The rest of the month will be an improvement.

-M

Pay Day

on Thursday, May 14, 2009

Today was pay day. I brought home more than expected so I have a lot of snowflakes to tack on to S's credit card payment this month. I'm pretty excited about this because the sooner we can get that paid off the sooner we can bump up the e-fund. We are hoping to have S's credit card paid off by the end of August but we'll see what happens.

-M

Budget Update

on Monday, May 11, 2009

I am deleting this post because I haven't had a chance to work through it all just yet. I'll just do an end of the month budget recap.

-M

An important decision

on Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Yesterday, while at work I found out that a job that I want is opening up but not at the place I want it. I'd be earning about $150 more a month if I were to take the promotion. That isn't very much money considering I'd be going from four ten hour days to five eight hour days. With that I have to consider gas. This opportunity is only one mile further from my house than my current job but that means an extra 30 miles a week that I'd be driving because of the extra day. My car gets about 22 or so miles per gallon and a gallon is about $2.20 a gallon so I'd be spending an extra $3 or so a week on gas or $12 a month.

After taking this over with S and a few others I have decided to apply for it. An extra $150 a month or even an extra $135 a month after extra gas expenses is something that we can use to pay down his credit card and increase our savings.

-M

Upstate

on Saturday, May 2, 2009

It has been cold and rainy here all week. I haven't ventured out except to go to work. The weather is becoming a little bit depressing. Last weekend we had temperatures in the 90's so it was almost too hot to do anything in the middle of the day and this past week and now weekend is rainy. I hate to drag O out in the rain considering she is already sick. The weather is making me miss my family and friends upstate even though their weather is just as crumby. We are going to visit them Mother's Day weekend which is coming up quickly. Hopefully, after we go out to the store later this afternoon I'll feel a little better.

-M

PS: S comes home in two weeks. He'll be finished with school with the exception of one class but at least he's not leaving for extended periods of time any more.

State of the Finances

on Friday, May 1, 2009

Well, well, well... another month come and gone already! Let's get to business shall we.

Savings- we did better than expected this month in our saving categories. This is partly because we deposited our wedding checks and partly because we got some good deals on baby products.

E-fund:
Increase of $585

Travel:
Increase of $2295
This means we surpassed our goal and it's in need of revision. We are trying to save enough to go to Germany next spring so most of our wedding money went into this account. We are unsure of how much we'll need to get the three of us to Germany and to sight see but we are thinking our goal should be $5,000. If we spent it all that's fine and if we come home with some that's even better.

Again, we haven't touched retirement. I am going to call about setting up a retirement account through work sometime this month. I'm pretty sure I have to be there ten months before I can do this and I'm fast approaching the ten month mark.

We have a very stuffed piggy bank right now for our little O. When S finishes college we are going to open a savings account for her and deposit this month. This will be done this month so we'll have someone to show in O's account next month.

Our net worth, went down by $3,375. I am very disappointed. S had to take on another student loan to finish up college. He should not need any more loans and we're working on paying his credit card off so I hope to see a big change in the right direction next month.

Debts- We acquired more debt this month. I'm disappointed by this. The student loan debt was necessary but S added a little to his credit card debt which was not necessary. I can only say, we are starting a budgeting challenge today and hopefully that will allow us to free up some money to throw toward S's credit card to get that balance down and eventually gone.

We will have better things to report next month.

-M

Budgeting - We'll Give It A Try

on Thursday, April 30, 2009

As I wrote about earlier this month another blogger, Gather Little By Little, issued a challenge and the G Family accepted! We have never actually lived on a budget. Yes, I have suggested spending limits in Microsoft Money but we've never actually stuck to those limits. This will be our first attempt at having an actual budget. I am hoping that this challenge is just another stepping stone in the right financial direction. I want to say thank you for issuing this challenge and I can't wait to blog about it through the month of May and beyond.

Income:
$1250

Expenses:
Baby: $100
Gasoline: $115
Cell Phone: $55
Reoccurring Bills: $325
Miscellaneous: $50
Student Loan: $190
S's Credit Card: $100

Savings:
O: $50
Travel: $50
E-Fund: $215
Snowflake: anything left over from the other categories

-M

Final Steps

Today is the last day of April and I'm winding up my Steps from Financial Literacy Month.

Step 27 is about the cost of credit. We thankfully are down to on S's credit card and our student loans. After my experience with my first and second runs with a decent amount of credit card debt I doubt we'll be doing that again. Once S's credit card is paid off we'll only use the cards if we can pay them off each month.

Step 28 talks about assembling a team for financial planning. I will admit we are in need of a lawyer. We need wills and health care proxy forms. We will be getting on top of this during the summer months.

Step 29 and Step 30 deal with the benefits of having a financial plan and feelings about having one. I can only speak for myself but I will say that I feel much better when I don't have credit card debt hanging over my head. I also feel better when we have a budget in place. I seriously need to do an overhaul of our budget tonight because our 30 Day Budget Challenge starts tomorrow and I was paid today. How fitting! After working through this plan I feel like I have a better handle on some areas and there are some areas that S and I need to work on. We will continue to work on our finances as best we can.

I am really glad I was able to take part in this.

-M

Step 23

on Sunday, April 26, 2009

Step 23 has to do with grocery shopping. I am not the main grocery shopper in our house. This does not really apply to me. I do buy a few things and when I do I use coupons and shop deals. I do plan on using menu planning and shopping deals along with my coupons when we move out as well.

Step 24 deals with sharing a tip. I have been trying to share tips on here with things that work for us. I hope this counts as working on this step.

Step 25 deals with adjusting spending habits. I am going to create an all new budget for the challenge in the previous post that starts on Friday.

Step 26 deals with insurance check-ups. S and I really need to have a long discussion about this once he arrives home. This step is not completed and will not be completed for at least another month. I am going to bookmark it and keep it safe for a little while longer.

-M

Accepting another Challenge

on Thursday, April 23, 2009

Gather Little By Little has issued a challenge to anyone willing to accept. He is currently challenging all of us bloggers out in bloggerspace to live on a budget for 30 days. I plan on implementing a new budget as of May 1st anyway so this is a timely challenge that I am glad to accept. I will be working on the budget more this weekend and definately posting it either before or on next Friday.

-M

Step 22

on Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Today it is time for step 22. Step 22 is about reducing spending. This is probably one of the areas I need the most work in. We would have a lot more money ok not really a lot more money but at least some more money if I didn't spend frivolously.

I bring my lunch to work almost every day but still tend to stop to pick something else up at least once a week. This could stop or at least be cut down to once a month.

In the past I was saving all of the change I had after breaking a dollar. I am now spending that when I run out of dollars. I need to go back to saving the change.

The rest of the ideas on the list do not really apply to me. I wash all of my clothing and have a drying rack that I use for heavy items such as jeans and sweaters. I end up washing three loads but only having to dry one.

All of our extra money that comes in goes into our snowflake pile and transferred to savings at the end of the month. I suppose we could transfer it every time we found some money but that would prove to be difficult and most likely stop after a month. For instance, I have $30 in the budget once a week for gas but usually only need $24. I'd have to make a transfer at least every week for $6 which seems a bit unnecessary when I could just make a transfer once a month for $24. Wow, I just realized I am over budgeting this category by a whole tank of gas. I just might need to reallocate some of those funds. Then again, gas is going back up in our area so my best bet is to leave it alone, I think.

-M

Steps 17, 18, 19, 20 and 21

on Tuesday, April 21, 2009

I'm trying hard to get caught up with these steps to finish out Financial Literacy Month on time. I have just had so many things on my mind lately with O's minor health scare, trying to get things organized for S before he comes home and a lot going on at work.

Ok, back to business. Step 17 deals with savings. The first bullet says make it automatic. I have a small amount being automatically saved each month. I really should change this but will do that once S and I reevaluate our budget when he starts working. The next bullet says to turn your hobbies into cash. We I do know how to knit but I haven't knit anything worthy of being sold. I highly doubt I'll end up doing this bullet. The third bullet says downsize. While we can't really downsize we did decided this weekend to hold off on getting a new car for a while longer. My car has some major issues going on but we're going to try to just run the car down and then look into getting a different one. The final bullet says use gifts and found money wisely. We are saving all of our wedding presents for our trip to Germany. I received two target gift cards today through a diaper deal they have this week. I am going to use those towards O's birthday presents. Any other found money will be snowflaked into our emergency fund.

Step 18 deals with tracking daily expenses. I am already doing this by logging everything into our budgeting program.

Step 19 deals with documenting fixed expenses. We have very few fixed expenses. They are the cell phone and student loans. Everything else is pretty variable. I do put $100 for baby expenses in the budget but usually it comes in somewhere around $90. This is pretty variable as are most of our other categories at this point.

Step 20 deals with reoccuring but not monthly expenses. I have a seperate account that I stick money in each month for these bills. It is call my reocurring bills account. It pays for car insurance, clothing, oil changes, car tires, among other things. I added all of these expenses up and then divided them by 12 and then put that amount into the reoccuring bills account each month. I take them out at the start of the money that they will be used in by putting them into my regular checking account.

Step 21 deals with documenting spending. I have been tracking my expenses and spending in Microsoft Money since before I met S. I will continue to do this just adding his information as well. This steps pretty much explains how to create a budget. I will be posting my budget on or around May 1st. It will be as up to date and workable as possible. We may need to make some changes a long the way but we'll see what happens when the time comes.

I am now all caught up with these steps until the next time I fall behind.

-M

Our Little O

on Monday, April 20, 2009

Our daughter is O. She is just over 10 months old. She was recently diagnosed with a heart murmur. While this might sound like a common childhood ailment we were very concerned. As a baby I had to under go open heart surgery because I had a large hole in my heart that would not close on its own and my doctor originally diagnosed it as a murmur. Today, I had her second opinion appointment. The second doctor too believes it is a just childhold murmur that she will out grow. Hopefully, this is the case. The doctor said that she should out grow it by the time she is two and if not then her primary care doctor will most likely order more testing.

We are praying that it will go away on its own. I do not want my baby to have to go through what I had to go through. We have been pretty worried about this for the past two weeks or so. In the end we know things will work out the way they are supposed to but this is more of reason to have that emergency fund built up. Today, we went to an out of network doctor for the second opinion. I'm sure we will have to pay more than a regular co-pay for this appointment. While I knew it was coming since early on in the month and was able to squeeze enough to hopefully cover the bill it would be helpful to have the e-fund funded just incase we have a medical issue that will require more money. For now, we are hoping for the best but preparing for the worst.

-M

Steps 13, 14, 15 and 16

Seems I have fallen really far behind on my steps. I am going to do my best this week to catch up.

Step 13 deals with debt. As we all know I am working hard on pay down our debt. We have all of our debts listed on the side bar. The step explains the two snow ball methods. The first one being start with the smallest balances and the second starting with the highest interest rates. I can see both of them having advantages and disadvantages. We are tackling my credit card first (which is paid off now), then medical bills (awaiting an updated bill), and then finally his credit card. As soon as we get the updated bill we will be paying the medical bill in full this month. After that we're on to his credit card bill. We will still have our student loans but are not in a rush to pay those off just yet. Once we have all of our other debts paid off we'll have a lengthly discussion on what to do with the student loans. I have a feeling we'll just pay them on time each month until they are paid off.

Step 14 deals with emergency funds. We are working on building ours up. I am trying to adjust our budget so that we are able to put at least $300 per month into our emergency fund to build it up. As I said above we are working on paying off debt but I feel we need to build our emergency fund first. If we were to have an emergency right now we'd need to use our credit cards which would just create more debt. Increasing this savings account is more important to me at this time than paying down S's credit card.

Step 15 deals with retirement accounts. We do not have any yet. I just started working at my company and they require you to be here at least a year before you can open anything with them. I haven't opened an IRA yet but will do so this year. I don't think I'll be able to fully fund it this year but will try my hardest. I will also find out more about my company's 403b. I'm not even sure who to ask about that. I will find that out first and then get more information about retirement accounts. S is currently not working and does not have any income so he does not have any retirement accounts either. Our goal for this is to both have at least once account by the time we are 25.

Step 16 deals with commitment. I have posted my goals on the side bar of my blog. I sign in almost every day to update the 101 in 1001. I see these goals often and keep myself motivated that way.

Ok, that's enough work on this for today. I have some other things I want to start covering here. I want to cover my 101 in 1001. I also want to write more posts about O. I don't think I covered her enough here.

-M

Dining Out

on Wednesday, April 15, 2009

I have been eating out entirely too much since the wedding. I do not have an exactly number because this is money from my travel expenses from work. I do not include this money in our budget. This is my personal fun money and when it's gone, I don't have any more fun money for the rest of the month. It was also Easter this past weekend and my parents almost always give us lottery tickets. This time I won $14. As sad as it sounds, this went to dining out too.

If I figure each trip costs at least $5 and I know I've gone at least 10 times in the last month it rounds out to be about $50. Starting right now, I am going to stop eating out as frequently. I am going to limit it to twice a month and I've hit that number for April already. In fact, I've gone out 5 times since Saturday. I have plenty of food in my house so there isn't a real reason to stop for food at a fast food joint.

If I want to lose weight and gain savings, I really need to start looking at my food intake.

-M

Hourly Rate

Today, I stumbled across an interesting blog "One Caveman's Financial Journey". I love the balance between finance and personal touches. So, as I was reading the back posts I found this post. It really got me thinking. If after taxes, insurance, union dues and the .50 union donation, I only make $8.20 per hour I should really start being more careful with those dollars. My trips to Dunkin Donuts and Starbucks this past week cost me two and a half hours of work. Yikes! Those coffees and what not were not worth two hours. If I only remember to keep this in mind before I buy things I may think more carefully about buying them. This would be a win-win situation. More money in my wallet and less clutter in the house.

-M

101 Things in 1001 Days

While searching the web, I found this neat site. It has you create a list of 101 things you want to accomplish in 1001 days. That is just about 3 years. I decided this is something I want to try. All of our financial goals on the side bar are achievable but these goals do not have to be. This are things I've always wanted to do and so I created my list. I know I won't be able to achieve all of them and that's ok with me. Having them written down is a way to keep me accountable for at least trying them over the next three years. I am going to try to keep the list as updated as possible. It is current as of today. This is not something that S is taking part in. I did convince one of our mutual friends to join me though.

-M

Steps 10, 11 and 12

on Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Step 10 deals with priorities. This is an area we struggle with as a couple. Paying off debt is number one priority for both of us. This is a very big need. We are wasting money each month by paying interest to credit card companies that we do not need to be paying. Actually, my credit card is paid off and has been since early this month. S has a decent balance on is. We have decided that credit card debt needs to be paid off by the person that created it. This might not be the most effective way to pay it off but it is how we plan to deal with it.
Our second priority is our emergency fund. I will be adding as much as possible to it each month until we have $1,500 in it. This is our first goal. Once we reach this goal we plan to bump up some of our other savings areas and then come back to this goal to reach our eventual goal.
We also have a goal of going to Germany. This is a want. We are using all of our gifts from the wedding to pay for most of the trip. We are only adding a little bit of our own money. This will be one of our last savings goals for this year.

Step 11 deals with setting SMART Goals. A smart goal is something that is specific, measurable, achievable, rewarding and track able. Our side bar is all of our goals and they happen to fall into this category of goals without even know we were doing it. We also have stretch goals which might not be achievable but we wanted to challenge ourselves a little bit.

Step 12 is also about setting goals. It is about setting short, mid and long term goals. These are also laid out in our side bar.

It is really gratifying to find out that we have done so many of these steps without following this guide. It lets me believe that we are on the right track before starting this step journey.

-M

Wedding Gifts

on Saturday, April 11, 2009

Today, S and I opened a savings account together. It is our first account together. We put all of our monetary gifts from the wedding into it and labeled it our travel fund. I am very excited about this because that means we are almost to our travel goal to get to Germany. I can't even put into words how excited I am to go to Germany. Not only because my bestest college friend lives there but also because HELLO it's Germany! We'll continue to add to this account each month as scheduled until our goal is reached.

-M

Step 7, Step 8 and Step 9

on Thursday, April 9, 2009

First let me say, I have not been doing this every day as I should be. Life gets in the way and I do not always have time to do these things. I should make more of an attempt to work on things that I say I'm going to work on. I still haven't posted my introduction to my 101 things in 1001 days yet. That will come this Sunday with an update post. Now on to the business at hand...

Step seven is about figuring out income for a month. During most months I receive two paychecks. Each paycheck works out to about $630 which makes my monthly take home pay about $1260. I do receive a check for transportation reimbursement which usually works out to an extra $20 or so. I use this for fun money or extra gas money if I run over. When S starts work again he should be bringing home just about the same amount of money. We should have about $2400 per month to work with.

Step eight is dealing with net worth. I calculate our net worth each month on the sidebar. Have a look <----. It is not entirely accurate since it does not include S's bank accounts but it does include his debts. So in reality our net worth is slightly higher. I will continue to do this monthly.

Step nine is a debt test. I took the test and answered yes to some of the questions. At the end, it says if you answered yes to any of these questions debt pay off needs to be a priority. The two questions that I answered yes to honestly have nothing to do with debt pay off. One ask if our e-fund is inadequate. I answered yes because it is not where we'd like it to be. This is not because we have debt. It is because we used our savings for a wedding. The second question I answered yes to also has to do with savings. It says if I lost my job would we be in financial strain immediately. Yes we would because our savings is inadequate again not because we are in debt. Over all, on the questions related to debt I answered no which would make us pass with flying colors. I know we need to work on savings and that is going to be our next priority.

Ok, I am all caught up with this. I really should work on the next few steps as I'm going out of town for the weekend but I will do them when I return. As of right now, I'm not finding this a good way to get on track financially. We'll see how the rest of the days play out.

-M

Step 5 and Step 6

on Monday, April 6, 2009

I'm putting step five on hold. I just paid a substaintal amount in credit card bills and expect my credit score to rise because of this. I am going to wait to pull my score for a two months or so in hopes that this information positively effects my score. Step six says to fix any errors found in step five. I'm not doing step five so I can't do step six.

Step 4

on Saturday, April 4, 2009

For all major bill paying and other financial situations, I am the go to gal. While I don't really have uninterrupted time to do these tasks, I am doing the effectively as we have never been late will any of our bills. We do not have an automatic online bill payment system but I do pay all of our bills with the exception of one online. My parents gave us an old filing cabinet with a huge dent in the top. While it's not very pretty it does work for our uses. All of our mail is filed in this cabinet. The bills to be paid have a section as well as all other paperwork. The system really needs to be revamped but that will have to wait for another time; probably this summer.

It seems so far that these steps are not really helping us. I also am not sure I'm putting enough information in my posts about them. We'll see. I shall continue and finish this program.

-M

Step 3

I have been working on step three for a while now without the help of this program. It pertains to paperwork. Not too long ago, I posted about my organization of our filing cabinet. While I'm not entirely happy with the system we have now, it is much better than the lack of system we had before.

I usually keep grocery receipts until the food is finished and after it has been recorded in Microsoft Money. I keep my pay stubs for longer than necessary. I have them for about three years. I do not have any canceled checks. All of the checks that I write are saved automatically online. At this point, the only utility bill I have is the phone bill. I have been keeping these but I suppose I don't have to any more. We do not own a home or have a lease right now so none of those papers to worry about. As far as bank statements and credit card statements, both are available online. I do keep hard copies of my checking account statement in our filing cabinet though. I'll admit I need to keep better track of my taxes. I have 08 and 07 but for the life of me can't find anything prior to that. I will be keeping them from now on and will keep at least seven years worth.

For most things that I am throwing away, I shred it first. We have a shredder at my parents as well at work. I just bring my paperwork to one of these places and use their shredder. Hopefully, we will not have any fraud in our future.

-M

Step 2

Step two involves a quiz posted on the website. After taking this quiz and tallying up my points my score falls into this range:
11-15 Points: Reflects a good effort to manage your money effectively. The 30 step plan can help determine changes that can be made to improve your financial well-being

Questions two, three and six are our biggest need areas. They are savings and budgeting related. I agree with this quiz completely that these are our biggest need areas.

-M

Step 1

Step One-

I just put through my last payment to my credit card. As of the 7th when it is posted, my credit card will have a zero balance. I will not be amassing any more credit card debt that I can not pay off in a month and was doing very well with this until the wedding planning. With better planning and a clearer budget this should not be a problem. Through this I hope we become good examples for our daughter. With financially sound parents she will learn that credit cards are not free money and how to pay bills on time. We also want to express to her that wants and needs are different and how to obtain both by practicing good money management skills.

-M

A few new things!

on Thursday, April 2, 2009

I have a few new things I want to start; some finance related and some not but all will be posted here. Each of these probably deserve their own post but that will come at a later time.

First off, our savings snowball:
Now that all my debts with the exception of my college debts are paid, I want to start saving for a few different things. As I achieve a savings goal I will move the money that I was paying to that goal to the second goal and so on. To start most of my money will be going to the emergency fund.

Emergency Fund - $350 per month until $1,500 then $50 per month
Travel - $50 per month until Emergency Fund is funded then once funded $350 per month
O's College - $50 per month until Travel has enough for our trip to Germany and then $350 per month until other savings goals come up or we move and need to reassess the budget.

Hopefully, that was clear. I have a feeling it wasn't.

Secondly, Financial Literacy Month:
April is Financial Literacy Month. I will be participating in taking the steps listed on that website to the best of my ability. I will post about each step individually unless I do more than one step per day and then those steps will be in the same post.

Third, 101 things in 1001 days:
Starting on the 5th, I will post a list of 101 things I want to have completed by January 1, 2012. I will keep updating the blog as I complete items.