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Archive for November, 2010

2011 already? Really?

November 30th, 2010 at 02:55 pm

How can 2011 be a month away? Gack.

Oh well. I was inspired by those of you who are over achievers and have already posted your 2011 goals. I thought about mine, and here goes. Another ambitious year.

**2011 Goals**
$10,000 to EF savings. We should be able to do this if we stick to the weekly spending cap and keep up our auto transfers to savings every payday.

$10,000 to house fund. The ONLY way for this to work is to just put our tax refund into the savings account I have designated for this. We are moving in the next two years to a better school district, and I want to have some more saved to cover the costs. The ultimate goal is $25,000. I think (fingers crossed) we can swing $10k this year.

These three are the same as last year:
$4620 to kid 1's college fund
$4620 to kid 2's college fund
$4000 to my IRA

This one is new:
$2000 to Roth IRA. I may just transfer the money out of our taxable brokerage account. No sense paying taxes on money we don't touch anyway, when the earnings can grow tax free.

Pay $5,000 on car loan. Regular payments plus the extra I send every month amount to about $3,000, so I'll have to make extra extra payments occasionally.

So yeah, these goals will require much more budget stretching. So, I have a goal to earn $300 more a month freelancing. I think I am in a groove with the babies where I can safely take on one more project a month, and then I can allocate the extra funds for the house, car, and college. (my steady gig goes to the IRA and college funds).

And on a personal note, I am going to continue the momentum from this year.

-Revise my first novel and send to literary agents
-Write second novel (sequel to the first)
-Lose 15 pounds (I have planned two more 6-week weight loss programs. I lost 10.5 the first time around, so 15 in two sounds doable.)

And, finally, a decluttering goal. My goal is to donate 2 boxes/bags a month to Goodwill. We have too much stuff, and with a move coming in the forseeable future, I don't want to hang on to anything we don't love or use.

Oh, hubby...

November 30th, 2010 at 02:42 am

This is funny. Last night, I changed the filter in the furnace. I do it every year, right before Christmas. Anyway, I was lugging the old dirty one up the stairs when hubby said. "What is that?"

I told him it was the dirty furnace filter. He said "Huh. I didn't know furnaces had filters that need to be changed."

Roll eyes. I certainly did not marry a handy man. Oh well, at least he fixes the computers when they break, right?

That said, I am mostly done with Christmas. Just a few odds and ends left. Except, I can't think of anything to get hubby! I usually do something crafty and thoughtful that is perfect, but this year, I have zero ideas. I have only bought him a t-shirt and a book so far. How lame is that??

Personal austerity spending

November 25th, 2010 at 06:17 pm

The reality of buying a house, taking a loss on my current one, has sunk in. I am planning to implement an austerity budget in anticipation of our move, to build up cash reserves and money available for our next house.

Our plan, as always, is to borrow as little as possible and to pay off the loan as quickly as possible. We prefer to live mortgage free so that we can have more flexibility.

We are currently mortgage free, and it's been a huge blessing. We may have to spend anywhere from $50,000 to $100,000 more than we have in this house to get what we want in the best school district in the area. Much smaller price tag than $150,000 plus for private school.

So, I guess the plan is to stick to our $400 weekly budget for all expenses, sock as much as possible into savings. Save all of our tax refund (usually about $10,000). I plan to start selling online again, via Etsy and Craigslist, and funnel those earnings into the savings account. It's not much, but hopefully it will add up.

I am also hoping to take on more freelance work, to the tune of another $300 or more a month, and I will funnel that into savings, and to pay off the car loan as quickly as possible. The goal is to be as debt free as possible before house buying.

Final weigh in..

November 20th, 2010 at 05:01 pm

Today was my last day of the 6-week weight loss challenge. Lost 10.5 pounds. I also cut my mile run down from 10 minutes to 8:55. I still have a ways to go to get back to pre-babies weight, but I'm pretty happy with these results!

Christmas is wrecking the budget!

November 18th, 2010 at 03:45 pm

Our new easy budget has been working like a charm the last two months. Until now. Enter Christmas! Gak!

I managed to buy all of the kids' gifts without going over budget, but now that it's time to cross the adults off the list and buy the odds and ends that seem to never go on sale, I'm going to be way over our weekly spending caps for the next two weeks.

Oh well. I half expected this to happen for holidays. We have trimmed our list a lot this year, and many of those on our list still will be getting homemade brandied marmalade and tins of Christmas butterscotch blondies. But those who are still on my list: my mom, sister, husband, and in-laws all cost a pretty penny.

The in-laws is the cost of gifts plus the cost of travelling to Vermont to see them for the holidays, which is the most expensive part. And for my mom and sis, I'm to the point where I refuse to buy gifts that are useless clutter and only want to give people things they will truly use. Sometimes, that's more expensive.

For my mom, my sister and I are splitting her airfare to go to Las Vegas to see my late father's only living sister. We are all going to go in the spring. It would mean a lot to her, and it would be a fun trip for us.

I bought a TV for my sister. I got a great deal on just the one she wanted. Hers is so old, the closed captioning randomly comes on and off (only in Spanish) and it makes a loud whining sound like it's going to explode. It's more than I wanted to spend, but I know she's actually going to use it everyday for years to come.

And, I have no idea what to get hubby. So far, it's a book and a T-shirt. Maybe I'll buy us a "date" to our favorite restaurant, complete with sitter for the night.

Crazy long day

November 15th, 2010 at 02:21 am

Today was a long one. Hubby had to work late, so I had to get up with the kids this morning at 6:30. Then, I had personal training at 11. It was rough ! It was my final fitness assessment for the 6-week weight loss program I'm in, although final weigh in is next Saturday.

In five weeks, I've lost 8 pounds and about 10 inches. Not too shabby. I also have gone from a 10 minute mile to 8 min and 55 seconds. feels good. Hope I can lose 1 or 2 more pounds before final weigh in.

My son's first birthday party was today as well. It was one of those rare times in the universe when the stars align and every single person you invite actually shows up. The house was packed to the gills with people and kids. All the babies had fun.

I spent most of the afternoon prepping, making 50 cupcakes into monsters.

Exhibit A:


The house is finally cleaned up, the babies are in bed, and I am about to take a bath and hit the pillows myself.

Happy first birthday little man!

November 12th, 2010 at 02:53 pm

I can't believe my little man is one today. Next thing you know, he'll be getting his own apartment. This picture was too cute not to share.

Back to the living

November 11th, 2010 at 01:37 am

Ugh. It's been a terrible week. Hubby and all of the kids had the flu, and, um, how shall I say-- had it coming from both ends. It was terrible. Then, as soon as they were well, I got hit with it. Hubby had to take yesterday off of work to take care of me, but had to go back today. Thank god for Grandma. She showed up this morning with a can of lysol in one hand and sprayed the entire place. She took care of the kids until bedtime so I could have another day to recover. Boy did I need it.

It was a fast and furious flu, and I hadn't felt that knocked out in a long time. Let's hope it's all done and over with. Our littlest's first birthday is Friday and we are having a party Sunday. I want everyone to be healthy for the big day.

In other news, the piggy bank was full, so I cashed it out for an Amazon gift card at the local Coinstar. It turned out to be $92. I had no idea that little bank could hold so much money!

They don't charge you the sorting fee if you get a gift certificate, which is fine with me, because I had planned to shop Amazon anyway. I used it to buy Christmas gifts for the kids. I am just about finished with shopping for them. Maybe a few more things for the littlest, and then done. And all this before thanksgiving. I used to be so last minute. I guess having kids has made me into a planner!

In other positive money news, I got a $600 check for freelance work. I sent an extra $100 to the car loan, $200 to the kids' college funds, and put $300 in my IRA. I have one more check coming this year, for about $750. I will use that to reach my IRA goal for the year, and then split up the remaining $350 between the college funds and the car loan again. Feels nice to make progress, even if it is small.

Drowning in toys

November 4th, 2010 at 03:25 pm

Ugh. I am drowning in baby toys. More accurately, tripping over them, stepping on them in the middle of the night, and feeling defeated trying to clean them up only to have them dumped out again.

I feel like I keep donating and selling baby items, but the deluge has not yet been tamed. Any tips on how to tame the baby chaos that has taken over my house?

I'm sure it's not fun for the kids either, to always be living in a jumbled mess of toys.

I have tried rotating toys, but it only half works, and I have lovely IKEA storage cabinets with bins, but Bean likes to pretend he's a garbage man and dump it all out. Help!

Magic weight loss math

November 4th, 2010 at 03:05 am

Get out your calculators. I have the magic formula for dieting and weight loss, straight from my dietician.

Use this to figure out the minimum number of calories you should consumer in a day:

For women:
665 + (4.35 x weight) + (4.7 x height) - (4.7 x age)

For men:
66 + (6.23 x weight) + (12.7 x height) - (6.8 x age)

Okay, take that number, which is your base metabolic rate.

Multiply by 1.2 if you are a couch potato
by 1.375 if you exercise 1 - 3 days a week
by 1.55 if you exercise 3 - 5 days a week
by 1.725 if you exercise 6-7 days a week.

That's how many calories a day you need to eat to maintain weight.

To lose half a pound a week (current doctor recommendation), cut 250 calories a day. For a pound a week, cut 500 calories a day.

I found this incredibly helpful. Also, if you are not diabetic, 50 percent of your calories should come from carbs.

Budget is working!!!!

November 2nd, 2010 at 01:42 pm

My informal budget plan-- to spend no more than $400 a week for everything, such as diapers, formula, clothes, gas groceries, etc...ALL of it-- is actually working.

It's crazy. It's been about six weeks since we've started and it has been on the mark or slightly under every single week.

As a result, I was able to up the contributions to the kids' 529s by $50 a month and add $50 more a month to the savings account. In another two weeks, I may feel confident enough to up the savings a little more.

All of this, and we have still spent on extras and stayed under budget. I bought most of the kids' Christmas gifts, paid our entry fees for warrior dash, and bought some fancier cuts of meat to help me feel less deprived on my 6-week weight loss diet.

I guess I wonder why I didn't do this sooner.