Archive for the ‘Spending Money’ Category

April Financial update

May 2, 2007

I did end up in the red for April.  The good news is this is the first month in 2007 that I spent more money than I brought in.  The difference was only $44 so for 2007 as a whole I am still doing OK. 

I have a few challenges in May coming up.  We are taking a little vacation near the end of the month.  We have saved up for it, so I hope nothing vacation related comes out of our regular budget.  There always seems to be something that comes up however, so I do need to make sure I have a little extra room.

I am also trying something new with my household and gas purchases.  Instead of using a cash based system for these types of items I am going to use my CC and earn points on my purchased and maybe a $ or two in interest on the money left in my account.  At the end of the month, I will pay my CC on-line.  I have always been very responsible with credit cards – I have never carried a balance.  However, with the cash system, I could physically see how much money I had left for the month by looking at my wallet.  With CC, I will have to keep track in my head when I am out shopping. 

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April Finances

April 25, 2007

It is nearing the end of the month and I have a feeling that April will not end in positive numbers.  Here is the reasons why:

  1. The month of April had 5 Mondays.  I pay for daycare each week on Monday so this caused an extra $250 compared with the last two months.
  2. I hosted Easter Dinner at my house this year so this caused my grocery bill to go up a bit.  I also bought my princess a new dress for Easter – she didn’t need it but it makes her feel like Cinderella.  It just melts my heart to see her so excited about something. 
  3. Murphy’s law – If you don’t want to spend any money – you are suddenly out of everything.  My grocery list on my fridge grows each day of stuff we run out of – mostly they are staple items that we will need to replace before the end of the month – bread, milk, cereal, butter.  The car is also almost out of gas.
  4. Eating out.  Normally I only eat out 1-2 times a month (this includes lunch and eating out with my family).  This month I have eaten out 5 times including pizza for the family.  I had a lot of user-group meetings at work and traditionally the whole group goes out for lunch. 
  5. I received my tax return money but it all went to debt and a new washing machine. 
  6. We had family pictures taken for the church directory.  My DH does portrait photography on the side so we usually don’t purchase any pictures from these types of things.  However, the girls were especially cute and we have never had a family portrait of all 4 of us so we walked out with $70 in pictures. 

This is where I need to find my strength to keep up my budget.  In prior years when I have attempted to cut back on expenses, this is where I begin failing.   It is OK to be over budget once and a while – I just need to make sure next month it does not happen again.   Also – I need to stay focused on paying off my car loan.  Once that bill is gone I will give myself more breathing room in my budget so I am not scrounging at the end of the month.

Ways to remain focused during debt payoff and not get burned out

April 13, 2007

MoneyDummy has a great post on how to avoid burn out when you are paying off debt. 

Almost every year I start off by being in tightwad mode to try to save some money.  Every year it lasts until February and then I go back to my old habits.  This year was different. 

Here are ways I avoid burnout – A lot of these are similar to MoneyDummy. 

1.  I got scared.  I have two kids in daycare.  I added up my monthly bills/daycare along with what I was spending and I was consistently spending more than I made.  Granted I didn’t have any credit card debt, but if this cycle continued I would be in trouble.  I needed to free up more cash… which leads me to #2. 

2.  I have a goal.  My goal is to have my car paid off by the end of the year.  The only way this is going to happen is if I pay at least an extra $170 a month on my loan ($500 total).   I get excited every payday when I go on-line to make my $250 payment to the loan.  Once the car is paid off it will be like having a $500 a month raise… which leads me to #3.

3.  I fantasize about what I am going to do with the extra money.  I seriously cannot wait for until my car is paid and get excited every time I think about it.  What should I do next?  Start paying down on my DH’s school loan?  Or maybe extra mortgage payments to get the principal amount lowered so we can quit paying mortgage insurance?  How about beefing up savings so we have a real emergency fund?  Start saving for the next car?  Vacation fund? Home Improvement?  AHHHHH! $500 is not going to be enough!!!!

4.  We rarely eat out, not only because of the costs, but also because eating out with a 1 year old and a 3 year old is not enjoyable.  To make up for not eating out I try to plan a fun meal each weekend.  Homemade pizza where everyone makes their own.  Grilled steaks with sauteed mushrooms and onions.  Copy Cat versions of our favorite restuarant meals like Cheesecake Factory’s Cajun Pasta.   Granted, these meals usually cost me more than our normal weekday fare, I am pretty sure we are still coming out ahead.

These are things I do get burned out on and I usually have to give myself a pep talk to talk myself out of it.

1.  Going out to lunch with my co-workers.  I love the social time with my co-workers when we go out to eat.  It is really the only time during the day I get to do this.  Luckily there are almost always people that bring their lunch to eat in the lunch room also.  I do allow myself 1-2 times a month to go out for lunch – as long as we go somewhere cheap (no $10 lunches). 

2.  Buying clothes for my girls.  Little girl clothes are so stinking cute that I want to buy everything.  My 3 year old is into everything girly – if I bring home a dress or anything pink she gets all excited.  It makes me feel so good to see her light up like that… but I have to keep reminding myself she already has more clothes than she needs.  

3.  Toys – Again, all I have to buy something princess or barbie related and my 3 year old thinks I am the best mom in the world.  I do realize that my kids will think that anyway and I don’t need to buy them things… but it just makes me feel all warm and fuzzy inside. 

Big purchase – new washing machine.

March 20, 2007

My hubby and I plan on purchasing a new washing maching next weekend. Our current one is around 10 years old and recently it has started sounding like a jet plane is taking off in our basement. You can hear it all the way through the house and outside. It also leaks a little bit of water each cycle. When it started doing this I decided I was going to wait until it died completely before replacing it, but I really can’t stand it much longer.  

Originally I did not want to spend over $500 on a new appliance. Our current washer was a cheaper model and it lasted 10 years. However, now I am reconsidering:

  • We now have 4 members of our family = more laundry. Since we have two girls, I can only imagine that the laundry load will continue to grow. My oldest, who is only 3, already will change clothes several times a day “just because”.
  •  I have been working the last few months on saving money on our utility bills. We insulated our home in December to cut down on the winter gas bills. We only buy CF light bulbs. Buying a energy star washing machine fits into this goal. Sometimes you have to spend a little money to save money in the long run.

However:

  • I do not phisically have the money right now for a front loader washer.
  • I have $550 saved for a new washer plus we will be getting around $2000 from our tax return (when I get around to finishing them…). I will have the money shortly, but this conflicts with my “NO DEBT” resulution. However, if I put it on my credit card, by the time the bill comes due I will have the money. The laundry detergent that is required these appliances is more expensive than traditional laundry detergent. I believe you use less of it and with the water & electric effiency you will still come out ahead.
  • My other hold back, is that this is going to require additional research. We got a copy of consumer reports from a friend. Once we find out what model\brand we are interested in, we will have to figure out where we can get the best deal. I hate shopping around. I know it is in my best interest, but it is just so boring – I can find a much more interesting use of my time.

Basically – I just want someone to make this decision for me. In the past, I have just let my husband deal with the big purchases like our car and when we replaced our dryer. It is not that I don’t want to be involved with the decision, I just have a hard time parting with my money in big chunks. It makes me feel sick in my stomach just thinking about it.