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$120 to savings!

December 7th, 2011 at 04:31 pm

This has been hell week. My sitter had to go out of town because her dad--who we love and the kids call grandpa-- was admitted to the hospital. THEN my mom and back-up sitter was sick this week, which never happens. She has an immune system of steel. Anyway, absolutely no sitters, scrambling to do my freelance work by deadline, and it's rainy and cold so the kids and I can't go out to play. The upside? The $120 I would have paid the sitter went right into savings! Yay!

Every little bit helps, right? I hadn't even thought of it until today, when it occurred to me to immediately move it into savings. I was going to spend it anyway, right? Might as well save it rather than let it dribble out of checking. So yeah. All of this used to be automatic, but now it takes thought. Geesh. I need to get back on track!

The wagon: I fell off

July 14th, 2010 at 07:55 pm

Recent events: namely, hubby giving away 5k, and the surprise when I have opened our last two credit card bills have shown me that I have officially fallen off the wagon.

When I joined this community and started a blog, I was on target. I was saving money, making more with the $20 challenge, being more creative using savings and discounts. It was great, financially speaking. And it was fun, like a new game.

Boy, have I gotten sloppy. I'm almost ashamed to admit it. I haven't been paying as close of attention to our spending as I should be. I haven't been socking away as much in the savings account as I could be. I have not been shopping around.

What happened?

Well, I got sloppy, for one.
2: I had a second kid and sleep became no.1 priority, not spending extra time managing the finances.
No.3 I started wanting to fix up the house in ways that we could see and enjoy. (Paid cash, but still)
No. 4 I started writing a weekly column for the metro newspaper that took up 3 nights a week-- so there was even less time and energy to spend on money.
No. 5 Because we are so tired and stressed, we spent more eating out and such.

That said. It's time to get back on the wagon. I read an article online today about all the folks suffering because of the recession, many without any more places to turn for help. It made it very clear to me that the well-being of my family is paramount, and the family has entrusted me with the job of managing the accounts to make sure this happens. This is a sacred trust.

We need to have more respect for the money we are earning. And start over again on our budget. Pay the savings account first, then live off of what's left. We used to do it that way, but lost our way these past 6 months.

It's clearer to me now that we are squandering our opportunity. We, like many, could be laid off any minute. Would I look back and be happy about the money we've wasted? No. So it's time to change. Seriously.

I'll keep you posted on the progress.

Opened Bean 2's 529 today

December 2nd, 2009 at 05:03 pm

Bean 2's SSN arrived today. That was super fast. So, I opened his state 529 plan today. I am going to fully fund it this month, up to the $2,000 state tax deduction. About $1500 of it will come from savings.

We also have a second brokerage account for the Beans, where we add another $2,620 a year for each of them for college. My goal is also to put 2009 money in for Bean 2. (Bean 1 is funded for the year), with as much coming from regular income as possible. It's likely about half will have to come from the savings account.

Our goal is to have $100,000 for each of them for college when they reach 18. We came to the magic number --$4620 a year-- by assuming a conservative 2 percent return on investment. We sure don't have much faith in the market, do we??

Bean's winter wardrobe-- $18!

September 25th, 2009 at 12:11 am

It's time to buy Beaner the next size up in pants and some sweaters for fall and winter. I had planned to just go to Kohl's and buy him pants, as they are on sale for 2 for $10.

But on a lark I decided to check two thrift stores first. I'm glad I did! I got him 7 pairs of pants, including 3 that are the same brand I would have bought at Kohl's, and three sweaters for $18.

Funny how we forget to check the cheap places first. I guess because it's faster and easier to make one stop at the regular store, where you know for certain they will have what you need .

credit card rewards for college savings?

July 24th, 2009 at 02:21 pm

A while back I did something I never do: I applied for new credit cards for me and the hubby. After some serious hard thinking, I decided we could do better with our rewards. We switched from an Amazon card to a Schwab rewards card.

We liked the Amazon card, but really, did we need Amazon gift certificates? we used them, but CDs, DVDs, and books are fun but not really getting us ahead. (It had 1 percent rewards)

The Schwab card pays 2 percent rewards, in cash, into a Schwab brokerage account each month. So, instead of a CD we'd actually be getting an investable asset as a reward. Much more our speed.

Caveat:This wouldn't have made sense for us if we didn't already have all of our investment accounts at Schwab. We do.

We already have one brokerage account but decided to open one specifically for this card. It is now the auxillary college savings account for our Beans. Any money we save for college that is above the $2,000 a year per kid we can deduct from our state taxes in our state 529 goes into this account.

After some serious math, we decided we could reach our goal by socking away $4600 a year per kid total in all accounts.

Anyway, I just want to say that after several months the rewards card is working out nicely. It took more than a month for the first deposit to show up, but since then it has shown up regularly.

We charge our day to day expenses and then pay them off every pay day. So far, the card has put about $100 into that account. I deem that a $100 bonus for money we would have spent anyway.

Hopefully I can figure out a way to grow that money for my Beans' college.

100k per bean for college

February 11th, 2009 at 06:12 pm

I used the Bankrate calculator to figure out how much we'd need to save to meet my hubby's goal to have 100,000 saved for each bean for college. Assuming a conservative 2 percent return each year, it works out to $385 a month for 18 years.

That's not as bad as I thought it would be. It's totally doable. And, if we had another, we'd still probably be OK, especially if I went to work even part time (plus freelancing).

I know it seems exorbitant, but my hubby's top-rated financial goal at the moment is to pay for his kids' college 100 percent, like his parents did for him, so we can give them a clean slate in adult life.

Tiki dreams, and then there's reality

February 10th, 2009 at 04:32 pm

Hubby and I went away for the weekend while his parents looked after Beanman. It was the first time we seriously talked about my tiki bar. It ended in a fight. The fight stems from our differing views of work.

Hubby comes from a family of salary people and has been taught to get a job, work hard at it, make money at it, then retire.

I come from a family of entrepreneurs, who believe you need to work hard-- at something you create- and you need to be boss if you really want to get ahead.

Long story short, Hubby is afraid to invest any of our money in a business venture. He thinks we'll be better off if we just both work 9-5 jobs for salaries and that's that.

The thing that upset me most was his suggestion that by opening a business, I would be taking money away from the Bean's college fund. Um, what???

We save and save and save. We're doing everything right. If anything, owning a business with a modicum of success will generate money to help pay for college.

Maybe this hit a nerve with me. Hubby's parents paid for all of his college. Mine paid for nothing. I had to drop out after two years due to lack of money, and go work in a bar for 7 years before I could afford to go back. I worked 60 plus hours a week and went to college full time, I paid as much in cash as possible to tuition every semester and still graduated with 40,000 in loan debt.

It's a sore subject to me. Obviously, I am still paying for that college education.

And, to make it worse, I got a journalism degree, took a 50 percent pay cut from working in a bar to take my first journalism job AND now, eight years after graduation, the industry has completely fallen apart. No ones hiring, no one is making money.

So, I guess it made me extra upset to hear that I had to supplant yet more of my dreams for yet another college education. I feel like I have been paying for one college education or another since 1993, and it's gotten me nothing but heartache. Is my whole working life, from age 18 to 65 only about paying for college degrees?

I am hurt and angry.

Starting at zero. Boo!

January 3rd, 2009 at 04:36 pm

Geesh. I just updated my sidebar to reflect my 2009 goals. It's much less satisfying than seeing the progress report from the end of last year, with money saved, IRAs funded and all that.

I'm sure y'all feel the same way. Oh well. I suppose that is the magic of New Year. Wiping the slate clean.

I have my work cut out for me this year for the $20 challenge. My goal is $2,500. Rather ambitious given the down economy.

The good news is I'm kicking it off right. I just sold a book on Amazon for a $17 profit!! Woo-hoo!

Used Restaurant.com for the first time

December 16th, 2008 at 03:18 pm

I bought $40 worth of restaurant gift certificates, and because they were having a special, it only cost $3. I am skeptical. It just seems too good to be true. Of course, I assume restaurants participate to get exposure, because the offerings are pretty limited.

But, for $3, I am willing to risk that it's a scam, I guess. Because if it isn't, it'll be a great deal.

I paid with Paypal, rather than giving my credit card number, just in case. Have y'all had luck with restaurants.com?

By the way, the 80 percent off code is SANTA.

Pre-Christmas stress and ramblings

December 10th, 2008 at 09:07 pm

Well, my hubby has been moping around the house for a week now. His parents have become increasingly emotionally unstable and needy in recent years, moreso in the past 6 months, and it's really starting to get to him. We even had a lunch date -- I got a babysitter and everything-- and he didn't say three words the whole time.

Sigh.

His parents were just here for 5 weeks. Yes, they stayed in our house for 5 WEEKS, and they are no easy people to deal with, and yet they have been begging to come back AGAIN for the past three weeks. Their last visit was over about 6 weeks ago.

Sorry, but my in-laws should not be like my period-- staying for a week plus once a month. (Sorry, that was a tasteless joke).

They are really using dirty tactics too, like telling my hubby they are sick (two Christmases ago they called while we were opening presents to tell us his dad had cancer, when he didn't.) , and trying to use guilt to manipulate him.

So yeah, they are making the holidays kind of joyless. He has to learn to tell them no and nip all this in the bud because if I have to step in, it will get real ugly fast.

Aside from that, we are a few weeks into our new budget. It seems to be working Ok, although there are a few purchases that have been in a grey area and therefore we aren't sure what envelope they are supposed to come out of. Mostly baby stuff and gifts have been ambiguous.

Beaner is now 8.5 months old, and is getting into everything. He's almost walking independently. Has 4 teeth and is very charming. But exhausting.

On the work front, I just signed a new freelance contract. It isn't much money per story, but it will be steady and interesting, so that makes it attractive.

I also got an invitation to the Xmas party at my old company and my old supervisor has begged me to come. I am going, to see old colleagues and to see if there is any potential freelance work there. I hate networking, but at least there are some nice people there to see.

And, I just got my last big check from my 2008 freelance gig, and I used part of that to finish up the vacation fund: My goal was $6,000 by Feb and I'm only about $40 short, I paid an extra $1,000 toward my student loan debt, and I put $137 more in the Bean's college fund, and $1100 into savings. So, it felt good to divvy up that check. But, it's also sad because it's the last big one I have coming!

Holiday sales on my Web sites are a lot slower this year. Last year, I made about $250 to $300 from Christmas orders and this year I have only made about $40. Big difference! It's not over yet, but I'm not optimistic.

Beaner also gained some new friends. One of our BFF couples had their bean Oct. 28 and the other just had one Dec. 2 . Now we just have to wait for them to be old enough to play together. Although, Beaner does have his first play date with another couple we like a lot. Their bean is 10 months old, so they are much closer in developmental age. It should be interesting to see how they play together.

That's all that's new in Tiki Thriftorama land!

Actual 2009 Goals, money and some not

December 2nd, 2008 at 09:24 pm

I've made my final list...

Jan-Feb:Migrate all of my Web sites to a new publishing platform that will hopefully let me take them to the next level content-wise and money-wise! Go to New Orleans to visit my friends.

March: Write a novel in 31 days, it doesn't matter if it's bad. This will be my first. Start a once-a-month Stitch n B*itch at my house.

April-May: Take a vacation with just the hubby either to Mexico or France.

Summer: Take Mom to San Francisco

Health: Join the gym, do yoga, and lose 5 to 10 pounds.

"Green" Goals: Reduce electricity usage by 20 percent by the end of the year, through efficiency upgrades.

Home: Expand my veggie garden. Grow 150 pounds of fruit and veggies at home. Build a stone wall around my flower beds, and build a patio in the backyard.

Financial Goals for 2009:
We will be making less money this year (sigh), but for the first time we have a mutually agreed-upon budget.

$9,000 to savings/EF
$2,500 to hubby's Roth IRA
$2,000 to 529 plan
$600 to new car fund
Total: $14,100

Pay $3,600 extra on the student loan.

I do not know how much work I will have this year, but the goal is to put all of it into my IRA until it hits $5,000, and if there is any more than that, use it all to pay down the student loan.

Tiki Fund/ $20 challenge Goal:
$2,100








Time to look ahead to 2009 goals: What are yours?

November 19th, 2008 at 04:17 pm

Well y'all, I know the holidays are right around the corner, but it's time we all start thinking about what we want to accomplish next year. I'm not saying you need to know anything concrete yet, but better to toy around with some ideas now than wake up Jan. 1 thinking "Wait. What am I doing?"

Not just money goals, either. We can't forget that we are whole people, not just bank accounts!

That said, I need to think. I don't have anything set in stone yet, but the hubby has been really bummed out and scared to death by the financial crisis. I told him we can't control the world, we can only control what we do.

He's afraid, and as such, wants us to buckle down and try to stash away as much cash as possible. I can't argue with that. It's a sound thing to do anyway.

So, I worked out a budget for us. It would allow us to live on 38 percent of our take-home pay and save the rest.

It may not sound like it, but there is a lot of leeway in there. We would each get a set amount of fun money and there is still something for eating out and going out occasionally as well, which would make it easier to stick to.

I haven't accounted for home improvements. I think we will just budget a set amount for the year for projects, put together a list from most to least important and start going through the list. When we run out of money, we're done for the year.

**

We've also made a list of energy improvements we want to make, so this would save us money over the long-term. (We're thinking of getting solar panels next year, so step one is to reduce usage).

I'm hoping to reduce our electricity use by 20-30 percent. I guess we'll just go room by room and try to improve efficiency one socket at a time.

**

This isn't really finance related but I want to write a novel in 2009. But I want to do it in one month. National Novel Writing Month is in November. The challenge is to write a 50,000 word novel in one month, even if it sucks. I want to do this this year.

**
Also, I don't know what my work life will be like next year. I did well freelancing last year, despite taking time off for Baby Bean, but my big contract has expired and I don't have anything else lined up. I haven't even had any bites, so I don't know what to expect.

I will commit everything I earn to my IRA, and just hope I can max it out at $5,000. If I make more than that, I am pretty sure it will all go to paying off the student loan. I'm tired of carrying that burden around.

While I don't have any work lined up, I've decided to track down some affordable classes so I can add to my skills and retrain in multimedia, which is the future of my industry. I think the local college offers weekend crash courses in the software I would need for about $200 each. It's not cheap, but it's cheaper than college tuition!

**

I may take an art class as well. The cultural arts center has inexpensive, interesting classes in things like precious metal clay sculpture. It could help my craft business, which helps my Tiki goal, so yeah, it may be worth it.

**
And, I think I'm old enough (33) that I need to start focusing on health and wellness. I may join the gym/community center down the street. It's within walking distance, they have yoga classes,and FREE babysitting while you work out. It would be some much-needed me time, and I am carrying around 10 pounds of baby weight that I am sick of.

**
I'd also like to take my mom to San Francisco. She has always dreamed of visiting there. It's in the U.S. and totally doable, the Bean will be able to travel by then, so why not? My hubby's best friend lives there too, so we could get a two-fer.

We are also planning to travel internationally in 2009, either to France or Mexico. We have almost $5,000 in the vacation fund. It would go farther in Mexico, due to cheaper airfare and better exchange rate, but we'll see. If I play my budget cards right, we could maybe make the money stretch enough for two trips.

**
And finally, I want a better social life. The bean has really shaken things up. I may host a monthly "art night" at my house, and maybe a biweekly "Stitch and B*tch". For those who don't know, that's when your friends sit around, drink wine and knit.

So yeah, get your thinking caps on! What kinds of goals are you thinking about for next year?

$46.63 left . AAAHHHHH!!

November 18th, 2008 at 04:30 pm

I'm only $46.63 away from meeting my savings goals for the year.

AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!

That's my way of saying I am very excited.
My last freelance check put me $251 over the tiki fund goal (with more to come, I'm sure), and all of my other accounts are either fully funded or overfunded.

The only thing left is to round out the car fund, and I have some auto-debits scheduled that should take care of that.

I never would have dreamed that hubby and I could save this much. I was inspired by Automatic Millionaire (the book), and it really has worked. So simple. Why haven't I been doing this for years?????

Managed to cut expenses a lot this month

November 11th, 2008 at 02:21 pm

I just looked at our credit card bill (we put everything on the card and pay it off at month's end). we're doing REALLY well at cutting our expenses. The bill is about 1/4 what it usually is. Yay! I wanted to sock some money away before Christmas, and cut back so we can boost the EF in case the hubby loses his job.

We have been eating at home most nights, bunching errands into one car trip to save gas, and just overall not buying anything that isn't a necessity.

I don't know if we can go on like this forever, but this is a good start.

Some freelance money coming soon (hopefully!)

October 15th, 2008 at 03:48 am

I sent some invoices out for freelance work today, to the tune of about $2800. I also finished about $100 more of freelance work today. If all goes well, of that $2900:
$1450 will go to savings
$450 will go to the vacation fund
$500 will go to extra on the student loan
$500 will go to the tiki fund

I'm expecting the first check, for $300, sometime this week. The $100 check (it will likely be for more) in two weeks, and the $2500 check by mid-November.

I hate to count my eggs before they are in my bank account, but I want to have this on record so I don't forget what I am supposed to do with it when the check comes!

Revamped money goals and revamped tiki challenge

September 24th, 2008 at 08:42 pm

Finding those two bars for sale has really been a kick in the pants. It's true that chance favors the prepared, and it's time to REALLY get prepared so that when my dream tiki bar location goes on sale, I will be ready to jump on it.

So, I'm revamping the savings strategy and the tiki bar fund strategy.

From now on, any money I make from jobs or freelance will be divided as follows:
50 percent to the family savings account
25 percent to extra on the student loan
25 percent to the tiki fund

My goal is to save $40k to start the bar and buy a building, without significantly impacting my family's finances.

This new system will allow me to compile the money faster, while still padding the savings account and paying off our one debt. It will allow me to save without hurting the family money and while getting ahead.

All of this is predicated on us accomplishing the overall savings goals
outlined on my sidebar.

For instance, if we haven't met our goals for IRAs, 529 contributions, etc., then no deal, and the money will flow to those first, and to the tiki last.

I have about $1150 in the tiki fund this year. Obviously way short of the goal, but as this was the first year, it was more of an experiment to see what could be done by saving little bits. And all of that money came from money I made not from my usual line of work.

I think this new system will also motivate me to track down more freelance money and more odd jobs. It may even help me get my photo business up and running, as that pays well.

Motivation has a cascading effect: the more I make for the tiki fund, the more I am making for my family. What better motivation is that?

I am also thinking of going on a "seriously trimming down the consumption" kick for me and the hubby. We seem to spend a lot of money but not really buy anything substantial, so it's time to slow the leak.

Boy, I am feeling the burn of inspiration.

Inching back to savings

September 23rd, 2008 at 01:11 pm

Finally, we are slowly getting back on track with savings. The padding is reemerging in the checking account and finally I've been able to resume transfers into the savings account and the online brokerage account. We really fell off the bandwagon in July, when my dad died, and after paying for a roof and other unexpected expenses since then, it seemed like we'd never get it together.

How do you save with rewards cards and discount cards?

September 11th, 2008 at 02:44 am

I am conducting an unofficial survey. How do you use rewards programs to save money?

And if you do use them, do you use more than one at a time to save even more (i.e. use a grocery discount card, and pay with a rewards credit card?)

And, how do you decide what rewards cards, coupons and discount programs to use?

$1050 to the Mexico vacation!

September 10th, 2008 at 01:05 pm

Yay! A small success. I got paid for my August freelance gig, so all of that money, $1050 is going to the Mexico vacation fund.

Hubby and I agreed that money from this project (it is long-term) will max out the vacation fund first, then be used 50-50 for savings and paying down the student loan. I already used $5,000 of it to max out my IRA for the year.

The vacation fund is up to $4,922.53. The goal is $6,000 by Feb. 2009.

A new grocery challenge. Fed up of wasting food and money.

August 23rd, 2008 at 02:32 am

I picked 12 pounds or roma tomatoes today and made them into sauce tonight. It was fantastic.

So good, it inspired me to clean out the fridge. I couldn't find a spot for the sauce leftovers.

When I threw away an entire grocery bag of spoiled food, I realized something had to change.

We spend A LOT on food. I don't even know how much. It's a category where we have no spending limits.

Well, that's going to change. We're obviously wasting a lot, and that is unacceptable, for many reasons.

So, I am going to institute a grocery challenge. I'm not sure exactly how it will work but I have a rough outline.

Step 1. Tally up how much we spend each month on dinners out and groceries.

Step 2. Reduce both of those amounts by 25 percent for Sept. and October, with the ultimate goal of reducing it to 50 percent of current spending within 6 months.

Step 3. A cook at home challenge. This may help accomplish step 2, and help us eat healthier. I have been wanting to make more home-cooked meals and have lately, but I can do better. I will start looking for healthy, possibly vegetarian cookbooks at the library.

Step 4. Plant a wonderful garden next spring. My plans were derailed this year due to being too pregnant to bend over. Hard to plant seedlings that way. I will focus on foods we eat often and items that we use that are expensive. Third, specialty varieties and items we can freeze for winter.

I do most of the grocery shopping, so I shouldn't need to enlist the hubby's help in this. Plus, he loves home-cooked food, so he'll be on board.

The money we save (compared to our current average monthly food expenditures) will go into our savings account, which frankly could use a boost because we just spent $7200 on a new roof.

Feeling defeated. And sad.

August 19th, 2008 at 03:40 am

It's been a bad day. I feel like my bank account is hemmoraghing money, and like the world is designed to get you coming and going.

I wrote earlier about the hot tub being a money pit. Sure, I accept responsibility for that. I will have repair visit No. 3 in the past month this week.

Then, when I went to install some very important new software on my mac, software I use to run all of my web businesses and multimedia and freelance graphic design, it turns out I need to buy a new operating system to run it on my computer. I bought my Mac 2 months before the new operating system came out,and the new software needs the new operating system. Ugh. I can't do anything without it, so that's another $130 out the door.

A friend is also in the hospital, at risk of having her baby 2 months early. She doesn't have anything for the baby yet. So, we're all running around trying to make sure she has the basics should the baby come out soon. We know her hubby will not have the time or energy to shop and set up a nursery. I don't mind that so much, but that is money out earlier than I expected.

I feel like I am swimming against the current. I guess everyone who's trying to save feels like that eventually, right?

I guess I'm not taking all of this in stride as I normally do, because I'm already feeling really down. I missed dad a lot today and the exhaustion of not sleeping and taking care of baby, and trying to keep my career together really got to me today.

We aren't rich, so shut up... a rant

August 12th, 2008 at 02:18 pm

I met with a friend last night for dinner. She, like me, has new baby and has started working part time as a freelancer to save on daycare. She was bemoaning how she and her husband are broke and can't make it on one salary alone. They also aren't saving anything for their baby's college.

They have credit card debt. Two SUVs and two SUV car payments. Mortgage, etc. student loans too.

I know for a fact that her husband makes just as much as mine.

She thinks my family making it on one salary must only be possible because we don't have a mortgage. (we don't have one because after a long grueling Hurricane Katrina recovery, we sold our house for enough profit to buy a house in Ohio , because it's much cheaper to live here).

Well, it isn't true. Even when we lived in New Orleans, and had an exorbitant $2,000 a month mortgage and made less money than we do now, we still saved and had no debt. In Ohio, if we hadn't paid it off, our mortgage would only be about $750 a month.

I'm telling you, it isn't the mortgage. It's the other things: the car notes, the credit card debt. We don't have that. And sure, it isn't easy all the time to live with one beat up 11 year old car for two people and a baby, but we do it, because we don't like debt.

And yes, I'd like to have cable television and maybe some fancy clothes every once in a while, but when it comes time to shop, it just doesn't seem as important as putting money away for bean's college.

It's all the choices you make. Not how much you earn. Even when I was young and broke working as a waitress in the French Quarter, I managed to eventually save $10,000 in a ceramic piggy bank in my apartment. It's choices!

With this friend, it's like it's falling on deaf ears.

I guess it frustrates me. You really have more control than you think you do.

We chose to live in a smaller house in a less expensive neighborhood than they chose, we choose not to have two car payments. Why can't anyone see that?

I rue the day they found out our house was paid for!

Fell off the savings plan this month

July 31st, 2008 at 08:40 pm

Well, I should have known this would happen. I fell off the savings program this month. We were doing so well. But, I had some unexpected expenses this month. I paid for my dad's funeral flowers, had to buy a new dress for the funeral (nothing old fits my post-baby body yet. but that will change!) , had to pay for a sitter, and didn't keep track of what we were spending. Plus, I am getting my hot tub repaired tomorrow. that thing is my own personal money pit, but at this point I'm so deep in it that I'm not giving it up out of principle.

So, I had to take $400 out of savings today and put it in checking to cover misc. I had to subtract it from my goals column, which really made me feel bad. I hope I can get back on track in August.

AAA discounts

July 9th, 2008 at 03:09 pm

I just renewed my AAA membership. I have used the card for towing and to get an occasional hotel discount. I just flipped through the benefit book that came with the card. I had no idea I could get discounts at so many other places, like Target, Payless, and Barnes and Noble. And, even better, on FTD flowers. I send flowers a couple of times a year, and now they can be 20 percent cheaper.

That's what I get for not paying attention. I could be saving even more money!!

Do any of you use these auxillary discounts? Am I crazy that I haven't noticed these before?

Finally got paid, $776 to IRA

July 7th, 2008 at 06:47 pm

One of my freelance clients finally paid, so that's another $776 to the IRA. $25 left to go.

I am expecting payment soon for work I did in March for another company. (yes, they are way late, but that's the joy of freelancing...) That will shore up the last $25 I need to max out my IRA for the year.

Not sure what to do with the rest of that check. I may pay down the student loan, finish funding the 529 plan for the year, or put it toward a new roof. I may even be frivolous and put it in an exotic vacation fund. The honey and I are planning to go somewhere that requires a passport next year, and I don't mean Canada.

I do wish the limits on an IRA were higher than $5,000. I could more, but I just don't want to mess with a solo 401k this year. Too much else to worry about with the new baby Bean and all.

No Drive Day and starting a car fund...

May 24th, 2008 at 04:49 pm

My hubby and I actually had a day where neither of us drove. Add one to the No Drive Day tally. I am only counting days where neither of us drive, because we are already a one-car family and I usually don't drive on weekdays.

This also reminds me that it's time to start saving money for a new car. Our one car is a 1997 Honda civic hatchback. It's a great car, never breaks down (knock on wood), gets great gas mileage, etc. But it isn't going to last forever.

I've already picked out our next car: A Honda Fit. I think they are so cute.

I also just read yesterday that they are going to make a hybrid Fit, which is REALLY the car of my dreams. It'll be out after the next model change. (Sometime between 2009 and 2015). I hope our current car can make it that long.

But, since we know we will need it, I've decided to put a little bit away for a car every month, on top of other savings. I'm going to start with $35 a month to the ING direct account, which has about $300 in it.

It isn't much, but it's something to get me thinking ahead.

Plus any bonus or referral money that ends up in the ING account will automatically go to the car fund.

$25 offer from ING

March 22nd, 2008 at 05:38 pm

I just got an offer for a free $25 from ING if I open a savings act with them. Is it worth it to open an account and leave some money in it just long enough to get the cash bonus? (I think in this case it's 30 days...)

Savings act interest =lead balloon

March 22nd, 2008 at 05:35 pm

All these Fed rate cuts are killing me. I just keep watching the interest rate on my savings act. go down. It was 5 percent a couple of months ago. Now I'll be lucky if it stays above 3. Anyone have any ideas on a better place to stash my cash??

$15.24 to challenge plus March savings

March 22nd, 2008 at 05:34 pm

I just socked another $15.24 in the tiki $20 challenge fund. The money came from sales of a display ad on one of my Web sites. I'm happy that there is now over $600 in the tiki bar fund, and it's only March.

We also managed to sock an additional
$175 in the 529 plan for the soon-to-be-born bean
$200 extra in the savings account
$180 in the stock-buying account.

Feels nice. Also, when the checks for my latest freelance project come in, it should be enough to max out my IRA for the year. Yay!

Being forced to articulate my goals on this blog has really helped me make things happen. I wish I had started sooner...

More to $20

February 27th, 2008 at 06:30 pm

Yay! I added $67.29 in Google adsense profits from my Web magazine to the Tiki $20 challenge.

2008 Total: $560.25, $939,75 to go!

I also paid an extra $143 this month on my student loan, bringing the balance to about $16,140. Down from $40,000 in 2001!!

I have long had an "accelerated" payment plan for the loan. When I work full time, I have used any money I've made as a freelance writer to pay extra on the loan every month. It's really sped up the pay-down.

I know it has a low interest rate and all, but it's our last outstanding debt, and I want it paid off. I totally hate debt.


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