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Archive for October, 2010

I heart forgotten money...

October 27th, 2010 at 08:43 am

I was looking through our accounts last night and realized I had $600 in a separate savings account. That money was supposed to go into my IRA but I totally forgot about it. I transferred it today. I'm thrilled. It's rare and nice to be $600 closer to your goal than you thought you were. This also frees up more money this year to go to the kids' college and toward the car loan. Yay!

In other good news, I may have at least one other freelance project. High-paying, but it only takes a couple of hours. Just have to see if I can work out the details. That would also mean more for the IRA,kids, and car. Woo-hoo!

I love the feeling of making progress.

Serious school advice

October 24th, 2010 at 03:30 pm


**Update**
Hubby and I just talked about all this again, and we have come to some agreements. We are starting to be on the same page. Let's hope the progress continues***

So, in two years, our baby will be starting kindergarten. We're faced with a dilemma. We live in the city school district, which frankly, is crap.

I did the math, and IF tuition did not increase (which it will ), we would be paying a minimum of $128,000 for 1-12 grades for two kids in the least expensive private school in our area.

It pains me, but I say moving to a good school district may be our best option. Love our house, but I keep running the numbers and none of them are good.

That tuition money -- I feel-- should be going into their college savings accounts, not for tuition.

We would have to pay more for an equivalent house in a decent school district, and we may even have a longer commute, both of which would suck, but I think in the long term it might keep us in better financial shape.

Also, when the kids are about high school age, we will have two aging parents -- one of whom lives 16 hours away-- and or be inheriting his parent's land, which has PROPERTY TAXES ALONE of $50,000 a year. That isn't a typo. They get senior citizen discounts that reduce that to about $20,000 a year, but we would not qualify for those.

Around that time, we will also have to begin paying for two college educations.

Hubby refuses to recognize that we have this potentially huge expense on the horizon. And he insists that he wants to keep the land.

I only bring this up because hubby and I were talking then arguing about it today. He says we'll be fine, even if we have to pay tuition, but I disagree.

Any of you had to move for schools? Is it worth it to just stay put?

Crisis averted

October 23rd, 2010 at 05:39 pm

I think the holiday time bomb has been averted. I talked to the MIL about having a mini Christmas over Thanksgiving weekend, and she is amenable to the idea. I am working out the details with her.

I also talked to my mom about Thanksgiving, and we have rescheduled our family thanksgiving meal to the Sunday before. Fingers crossed.... If this works out, everyone gets some sort of Christmas and Thanksgiving -- even if they don't line up with calendar days-- and we might get a tranquil holiday.

In other news, I lost 2.6 pounds this week, bringing my total to 4 pounds in two weeks. Woo-hoo!

Hubby is not sticking to the PLAN!!

October 22nd, 2010 at 06:44 pm

I'm a little annoyed. Hubby and I talked about our Christmas/Holiday plan for this year in July. We are both anxious to avoid another train wreck like last year, or really, every year since we've been married.

I won't get into it here, but let's just say it's always a disaster that ends up with his parents either inviting themselves and barging in bossing everyone around OR calling on Christmas day trying to make their son feel guilty that they aren't there ( it doesn't seem to register that they get Thanksgiving every year, and my family gets nothing. They just assume they should have both).

So, we wanted to talk about our new holiday plan with both families before the season started and expectations ans feelings get all crazy and emotional.

The plan is for us to have Christmas with just the kids this year. Thanksgiving at with his family (which involves a 16-hour drive with two toddlers. woo-hoo.) Christmas Eve with my family, and Christmas just us. It was going to be a slice if heaven.

I told my family about the change. He told his mom we weren't coming for christmas and she pitched a fit. The plan was to have a mini christmas with all of their traditions and the gingerbread house with thwe kids, etc. while we are there over Thanksgiving, but hubby didn't say one word about that part. A part that I think would have made her feel better.

I don't know why he can't stick to the plan and stand up for what we've already talked about. It's his job to manage his parents. I manage mine.

So, I went out on a limb today and emailed the MIL and asked her if she wanted to do the mini Christmas. No reply. We'l see if she's busy or passive aggressive.

Granted, these people had no interest in gifts and have no Christmas traditions, but act like they are getting shot in the stomach if they aren't there for every major holiday, even if it is at the expense of my family. It's infuriating. (And it was like this even before we had kids....)

I'm really drawing a line here. We're doing the holidays this way. Period. If hubby is to wimpy to lay down the law, I will.

Last Christmas was so awful it was almost divorce-worthy. We were still fighting about it in June!!!

I got the card

October 22nd, 2010 at 10:54 am

I decided to go for it and give the Target red card a whirl. If it turns out to be too much hassle or the discount doesn't add up as much as I think it will, I will cancel it. Let's see how this works out.

Target Red Card?

October 21st, 2010 at 07:29 am

I knew it was coming. Target made a change to their store credit card that has made it a potentially attractive option for us. As of right now, and for the foreseeable future, Target will instantly give you 5 percent off of all purchases made at Target, with the card.

Now, I've never had a store credit card. I also don't have any credit card debt and pay our balances in full every month.

We don't need another card, but let me just say I'm considering this one.

We buy almost everything at Target. Baby formula, diapers, pajamas, baby shoes, whole milk, you name it, and we buy it there. I shop there probably twice a week. It's the best place to buy basics close to us, I usually get coupons from them, and they have competitive prices on baby items as Wal-mart.

So, the question is, is it worth it to get the Red card and save 5 percent off every time I go there, plus the coupons?

It will be a small hassle to have yet one more card to keep track of, but probably not onerous enough to negate the savings, considering how much we spend there.

Any thoughts?

Warrior Dash

October 20th, 2010 at 06:40 pm

Hubby and I just signed up for the Warrior Dash. We're out $86.

It's heading our way next spring. It's a fun, but intense obstacle course and three mile race. Everyone gets a viking helmet when they cross the finish line. We are doing it with a large group of friends, so it should be great.

http://www.warriordash.com

What to do with $1000

October 19th, 2010 at 07:02 pm

I just got paid for two months freelance work, and after paying my city and federal self employment taxes, I have $1,000 left. What to do...

After a day full of thoughts, I decided to:
$700- to IRA
$100 to each of the kids' 529 plans
$100 extra payment on the car

I think this allocation is in line with our bigger goals, so I'm satisfied. I just set up all the transfers.

I've got three more checks coming in 2010, totalling about $1800. Thus far, the plan is to put $1300 of that into the IRA to meet my $4000 goal for the year. I will add $400 total to both kids' college accounts ($200 to each), and use the final $100 as an added car payment again.

In the mean time, I will try to drum up at least one or two more projects by the end of the year, so I can have more money to play around with.

Fat club disappointment

October 18th, 2010 at 12:24 pm

Well, I finished my first week of fat club. it was grueling. Lost of hard work-outs. Sadly, I only lost 1.4 pounds. I was aiming for 2.

Don't get me wrong. I'm happy to have lost anything. Turns out this whole diet and exercise thing is harder than I thought. My trainer said I didn't lose more because I wasn't eating enough. A couple of days, I was below 1000 calories and didn't realize it, which basically sends your body into starvation mode and keeps the weight on.


Here's hoping week two is more successful.

Yay, and babies...

October 15th, 2010 at 01:05 pm

This is my little ray of sunshine at his first Halloween party....



In other news, our biweekly credit card spending cap is working very well. We came in $4 under the first two weeks, and $250 under for the most recent two weeks. YAY!

We did manage to spend too much though, as we had some big expenses, but otherwise I think we are on track.

I've been making it a habit to buy as many of our groceries as possible at Aldi, I'm using coupons again (mostly store coupons from Target and the grocery), and seriously cut down on eating out.

I also sold some baby items to the second hand store for $23, and while there, picked up a Christmas present for the boy for $5. It was on my list of things to buy them new, but alas, there it was in mint condition for a fraction of the price!

So it was a good purchase...

October 10th, 2010 at 07:06 pm


Hubby was skeptical, and I felt guilty spending the money, but it turns out the booth was a good purchase. It's really comfortable, looks great, is fun, and even hubby likes it. Fits perfectly.

Fat Club Day 1

October 9th, 2010 at 10:36 am

Well, fat club started today. Six more weeks of strict diet and rigorous exercise and I will hopefully regain a fraction of my former health and figure.

As part of our fitness assessment this morning, we had to run a mile. I was pretty nervous and it seemed like a really long run, but I managed to finish at a respectable 10 minutes flat, despite walking part of the last lap. I also now have a baseline for my weight and measurements, so I will know how well I've done.

On the money front, nothing is new. I spent about $70 at aldi on groceries-- many for fat club-- and we've spent way way way way way too much this week, due to fat club, the diner booth we bought on craigslist, and renewing our shares in the farm co-op. All of these have a long-term pay off, but geesh. It sure hurts right now!

Fat Club

October 7th, 2010 at 10:28 am

I officially signed up for Fat Club, the intense 6-week weight loss and exercise program at the Y. It starts Saturday morning.

In 6 weeks, here is the minimum we have to do:
Attend 13 1-hour group work outs
Attend 3 1-hour educational workshops
Attend 5 1-hour workout classes specified by the program (1 yoga, 1 pilates, 1 water aerobics, etc.)
Attend 5 1-hour classes of our choice
Have 6 personal training sessions ( 1 per week)
Meet with the dietician

Keep a daily food diary.

Sounds like I am going to be super busy, but I'm hoping to drop at least 10 pounds. Whoever drops the highest percentage of body weight wins $200. Another incentive: making my money back!

More money out: I hope it was the right decision

October 6th, 2010 at 09:18 am


So, hubby and I began pricing new ( to us) dining room furniture, in anticipation of replacing the $35 vintage chrome table and chairs I bought at a thrift store almost 20 years ago. Our chairs have dry rot, and the table is fine, just a little wobbly. We wanted something that would stand up to our kids, be easy to clean, and kind of fun.

I've always had my heart set on a booth. So , I priced one from dinerbooths.com, a company in WV that has made them since the 1950s. A table with two 44 inch booths started at about $800, what we wanted was closer to $1200. And, I thought it might be a little too 1950s for my taste.

Anyway, last night, I was looking at craigslist, and I happened to run across the exact same booth I just priced out, used, at a moving sale for $250. For all of it. $250. I sent my mom down to look at it (It was very near her house) and she called to say it looked brand new and was in mint condition, and I would totally love it.

So, I did something bad. I busted the budget again. I took $250 cash out of the bank and I bought it. We pick it up this weekend. Hubby is fine with it. But it is another wrench in my budget plan. $330 for the farm share, $190 for fat club plus $110 for the gym membership to do fat club. It's been a budge-busting week.

I think the booth was definitely a great deal. But, I guess I'm nervous because I hadn't planned to spend anything on the dining room until next year. Am I being foolish? I mean, most of the tables I had looked at cost $200 or more-- just for the table.

I was also thinking that if the booth feels too 1950s, I can always make slipcovers for them to mix up the look.

scary article

October 6th, 2010 at 08:10 am

I ran across this.

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB1000142405274870329850457553...

It was interesting, until I saw these numbers:

the middle fifth of the population sliced their average annual spending to $41,150 in 2009... The drop came even as those households' after-tax income remained relatively stable over the two years, at an average $45,199.

So, people make $45k a year and spend $41k? No wonder we are in trouble.

HELP!!! Parenting etiquette?? What do I do??

October 5th, 2010 at 06:16 am

We've entered a new era of parenting now that Bean is in preschool. We just got our first school fundraiser form AND our first invitation to a birthday party for one of the other kids in his class. Yep. Parenting is about to get more expensive.

The fundraiser is for gourmet popcorn, at 6 bucks for an 8 ounce bag. It's made by a locally-owned business, so I like that part. But do I really have to ask my friends to buy this stuff? Or, can I just put in a small token order for us and have it be enough? What is the etiquette?

Also, Bean has 7 kids in his preschool class. He has a lot of fun there. We are just starting to get to know the parents. We got a birthday party invite from one family. I think I have only smiled and waved politely. Not sure if I've ever actually talked to them. Do we go? If we do, what is the etiquette? (gift, etc.?) and, when it's time for Bean's b-day, do we invite all the kids too? (There will be more in the class by then, as more join in January.)

HELP!!!

spending notebook on steroids

October 4th, 2010 at 09:26 am

I've been keeping trakc of all my spending in a notebook recently. Somehow, I don't think it's giving me the complete picture of my financial life that I am looking for.

As of today, I'm using a bigger notebook. I'll be writing down what I spend each day, what activities me and the hubby and kids had, if and what I cooked for dinner, and any other notes on what we did or what we were spending on.

I'm sure some of you have tried this, and I'd like to hear if it helped you.

I just think that with more data, I'll be able to look back over everything and see what our spending triggers are. It might also motivate me to cook at home more to cut out the take-out!@

The sound of money getting sucked out of my wallet

October 3rd, 2010 at 03:29 pm

This was an expensive weekend! And, it's going to be a spendy week.

We renewed our farm co-op share for next year, to the tune of $330. The farm had the fall open house Saturday, which is when you sign up for your shares for next season. We paid by check. We hadn't planned to spend that much, but opted to do the expensive veggie shares again, because they dropped the option for only fruit and eggs.

We really like the co-op, but it isn't cheap! Oh well. We love the farmers, and this is our fifth season, so I guess we'll keep doing it until we can't afford it anymore.

I have another big expense tomorrow: Fat Club. It costs $190 plus $90 for a two-month Y membership for a 6-week program of intense exercise, personal training, and dietician meetings. My friend has done this and loses about 12 pounds each time. It is spendy, but I talked to my doctor, and she agrees that it will help jump start my metabolism and set the stage for more weight loss even after it is over. And, it will significantly reduce my risk for Type 2 diabetes. If I can avoid diabetes, it will be money well spent.

Hubby and I also went on a cheap camping trip Saturday night. Grandma took the babies, so it only cost us about $20 for the camping plus about $12 for breakfast this morning. It was great. A bunch of our friends camped with us, so it was really nice.

The best part, though, was that hubby and I talked about some of our big issues over breakfast. The big surprise: He also wants to cut spending and save more money. I filled him in on our new austerity budget and how it has worked out for the first couple of weeks. He seemed happy, and willing to cut more.

Although, with the budget, I am not sure how to account for big, occasional expenses like the farm co-op. I'm going to try to just include it in the bi-weekly spending cap, even if it will be particularly difficult. And if that doesn't really work, try to come up with plan B.

I did feel confident enough to up the biweekly contribution to the savings account by $25, and to add $10 more to the extra car payment for the month.