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Archive for June, 2012

Under 80k and a double hazzah!

June 26th, 2012 at 11:08 pm

Just made it under $80,000 on the mortgage. We're now at $79,685.32. Why does it always feel so good to move below a big even number? Who can say.

The double hazzah is I just landed a great $1500 freelance gig this month. Yep. You guessed it, that money is going to take a HUGE chunk out of the car loan. Almost a third!!

This is all good news!

Dh Blew it!

June 23rd, 2012 at 12:47 am

So, I was all happy about my new budget and how it was working so well--until I paid the CC bills today and realized hubby had spent $400-- on a backpack,soccer shoes, and bike repair. That must be a gold-plated backpack. Argh. So much for my grand plan.

I guess I shouldn't be too angry, as he rarely ever buys anything. Other than food, he probably costs me $1000 a year. Argh.

In other news, the final bill for my office redo came, and after paying that and the mortgage, I've only got about $500 left in checking to last two weeks. I can't remember the last time that happened! (It would have been 1000, except for hubby's secret purchases!!)

Oh well, grin and bear it, right?

I will be debt free again!

June 19th, 2012 at 04:45 pm

I've been nostalgic for the five years hubby and I spent mortgage free, student loan free and auto loan free. Now we have a mortgage and car loan, and although we pay extra, I just can't stand being in debt. I hate that my money is wasted on interest!

So... The new pre-lay off budget is working out well. I feel much more in control of our cash. I even upped the biweekly transfer to the savings account from $150 to $250. If hubby keeps his job and things go well, I'm confident, I'll be able to up it even more.

On the debt front, I want to speed up pay off of the car loan and the mortgage. The bank won't let me make extra payments through the online system. And, they won't let me pay biweekly. But, I got a courtesy call from the bank-- for "premier" customers. funny-- asking me how I liked my service. Etc. I talked to that guy and he said you can walk into any branch and make an extra payment toward principal to the mortgage. They just have to know that is what the check is for. Eureka! When I have extra cash, I can just go to a branch. That is good to know.

I did pay a chunk to the car loan. I'm so close to getting it under $4,000 that I can taste it! I have at least two more big freelance checks coming as well. Maybe I can make a dent.

$3 left and waffles

June 16th, 2012 at 08:03 pm

So, the results of the first week of our new budget of $250 a week for everything (for a family of four). I made it with $3 to spare.

The included treating my mom and sister to dinner and a 3D movie last night, which we'd been planning for weeks. So, that is good! We also went to a kid's b-day party and gifted $10 cash.

My weak spot, so far as I can tell, is the farmers market. I pick up my CSA farm share every Saturday, and I also buy all of our meat there from a local free-range farm. I always pick up some odds and ends, and I love supporting local farmers, but the money really adds up.

Thanks to the farmers market and grocery shopping, I now only have $80 left for this week. (bought three beautiful and spendy steaks to grill for father's day.)

The gas tank (fill up only cost $5.44, thanks to grocery store discounts!) and the fridge are full. That bodes well!

My mom and I also hit two church rummage sales this morning. I picked up a new in box waffle maker. I had actually been debating buying one this week. The kids love waffles and eat a lot of them for quick breakfasts. Eggos are $5 a box reg. price.

IF the wafflemaker works out, I think it could save me a lot of money. I can set aside some time to make a lot of waffles and freeze them, and I can add some more healthy ingredients to them, as well. We'll see how that goes. Best laid plans, right?

I also replaced our dying air popcorn popper for $2. We use ours a lot, so this was great. The kids have had a blast with it, as well. I think we've had popcorn for snacks at least 3 times this week.

My son spent the $3 in his wallet on a giant box of hotwheels cars, and two bulldozers. He loved it, and it was a good lesson. He saw how much more he got for his money buying used as opposed to Target or the toy store.

My basement office is almost finished as well. Well, the part I can't do myself is almost finished. I hired out the electrical, framing,and drywall. Soon, I will begin the sanding and painting. Not sure what the final bill is yet for the contractor, but I find out Monday. Hopefully it won't be a shock!

going okay

June 12th, 2012 at 07:15 pm

So... I started us on the austerity budget on Saturday, when I went grocery shopping for the week. I honestly feel relieved and more in control. And, strangely, I don't feel deprived. We've been cooking at home every night, eating leftovers, and I've been packing my lunch for the two days a week I'm working far from home. It's working out okay!

I spent about half of our $250 weekly budget on groceries on Saturday, and that's it. Nothing since. My sister and I are going to the movie together Friday night to see Prometheus. We'd been planning that for months, and looks like even that treat won't break the budget. Fingers crossed the good luck sticks.

The only hitch I forsee is Friday. I'm I'll take the kids to the swimming pool (Y membership. Paid for!), but they might want to go out to lunch, and we do have a birthday party that night, so $10 gift plus card. I think we can make it through. Maybe I can pack sandwiches for poolside and we can have a picnic. We'll see!

I also sent $157 of a recent $750 freelance check to the car loan.

Anyhoo. I think the will be beneficial. If hubby doesn't get laid off (let's hope for that) I'm hoping I will at least be able to squeeze more out of the budget every month so we can get out of debt faster.

Budget for potential layoff

June 9th, 2012 at 01:51 am

I thought I'd lay it all out on the line. There isn't any word yet on Dh getting laid off, but given the climate in the company now, I want to prepare. Seems like it's only a matter of time.

Here is what we're brining in and sending out every month.

Income: $5496/month

Mortgage 1700
preschool 790
Car 220
Cable/phone/internet $157 (cut cable, new bill unknown, probably about $100)
Electricity 150
Gas 100
YWCA $80
Netflix $10

EF savings $300
529s $400

My freelance income is sporadic, and that income, which averages to about $1000 a month is generally used to pay extra to the mortgage and car loans, and fund the IRA and Roth IRAs.

Plan: budget of $250/ week for groceries, gas and entertainment/incidentals. Family of four, two little kids who eat a lot. (I'll try to stay closer to $200.)

Plan is to sock any extra into savings and to snowball the debts.

Any other suggestions?

What can I cut....

June 6th, 2012 at 01:57 pm

I'm starting to get nervous about hubby getting laid off, so it's time to get out the scalpel and see what I can cut.

The big one is food. We eat out a lot just because we are too harried to cook. I laid out my first weekly meal plan on Sunday (first in I don't know how long), and did all the grocery shopping on Monday (forgot coupons-- working on that). So far, it's going great.

We had
meatloaf and carrots on Monday
stuffed pasta shells, salad, and garlic bread last night
tonight, chicken fajitas, tomorrow, bratwurst, Friday baked ham and cheese potatoes.

We are always running to the grocery store because we don't have something. I'm tired of wasting time running to the store, so it's once a week plus the Saturday farm pick up from now on.

And next week, I'll actually clip the darn coupons.
We're also cancelling cable. And I'm going to just not buy anything that isn't absolutely essential.

And, buy used before buying new, etc.

I won't give up the Y membership though, as we really do use it-- me to workout, kids for swimming and cheap swim lessons. We use it so much.

The construction work on my office has been delayed, and not I'm wondering if I should try to do part of it myself. Like put the insulation in the wall and start hanging drywall. I guess I'm just afraid to mess it up. And, I know I can't drywall the ceiling all by myself. My contractor friend doesn't charge that much, so I'm wondering if I'd really just be giving myself a cheapache at this point.

The possibility of me taking on more work will have to wait until fall, when both the kids finally are old enough to go to preschool 3 mornings a week (essential-- for my work, can't cut it!). I'm already swamped with assignments, which I know if a good problem to have, but it's exhausting considering I have to do most of my work at night when the kids are sleeping...

If you have any more advice on how to prepare for a possible layoff? Should I keep concentrating on paying off debt or put more into savings? We could maybe live for 9 months on our savings, paying all of our bills, not counting my freelance income, which would continue.

Um, that's not good

June 5th, 2012 at 09:37 pm

Hubby's coworkers have all slowly been outsourced to the Phillipines. Today, all the project managers he works with have been fired and their jobs shipped overseas. Sounds like we better go into austerity mode and prepare to be laid off. This has been happening since 2008.

I guess I will start looking at what we can cut, try to put more into savings,and try to spend as absolutely little as possible on everything else. Ugh.

Hubby has worked there for 7 years as of August, and it's a pretty cushy gig. Lots of hard work, but he can work from home a lot of days, and sometimes help me out if I need to make a short work call during the day.

I'm hoping we don't get outsourced, but really, what could we do? The signs all point to yes. It's only a matter of time. Of course... just when I was thinking of giving up my lowest paid freelance gig because the work far outweighs the money. Looks like I have to stick it out!

In other news, I am helping my sister (who has hoarder tendencies and shops for a hobby. My polar opposite?) to have a yard sale. I've finally talked her into it. Her basement is just packed to the brim with stuff she doesn't use. It's got to go. Hopefully we can make a little cash and do it Clean House Style-- the charity truck comes at the end and hauls the last of it away. Fingers crossed!

10-minute challenge

June 4th, 2012 at 04:55 pm

I've decided to 'bend' Ceejay's 10-minute exercise a little bit into a 10 minutes to a better life challenge.

I always have so many jobs large and small that just pile up and never get done. It gets to be overwhelming.

So, I've been dedicated my 10 minutes a day to cleaning, organizing, planning, etc.

So far, I've cleaned out all of the kid's drawers and put away out of season clothes, and donated outgrown ones.

Cleaned out the fridge, made some homemade cleaners, scrubbed the kitchen, cleared out the junk drawer, etc. On other days, I'm just choosing one area of the house to clean really well, whether it's windows, sinks, or cabinets.

I also did 40 leg lifts, 40 crunches, and 20 push ups for my 10 minute exercise challenge yesterday, plus a 45 minute run in the park.

loving the chest freezer

June 3rd, 2012 at 11:52 pm

Kroger recently raised the price of organic milk from 5.49 to 7.19 a gallon. I guess all the other moms weren't too crazy about it either, so I've noticed that a lot more gallons of organic milk turn into manager's specials when they get near their expiration. I
ve been stocking up. Sometimes, I get 4 or 5 gallons at a time.

I don't know why I resisted one for so long. The money I'm saving on milk will have paid for the freezer by the end of the year!

Homemade cleaners, debt update...

June 2nd, 2012 at 07:57 pm

In my early 20s, I used to make all of my household cleaners using recipes from the book Clean House, Clean Planet by Karen Logan. Most of the recpes are easy and non-toxic, using vinegar, castille soap, and baking soda.

Well, I bought the supplies and am going to start doing it again. My boys always want to help me clean the house, and if the cleaners are so gentle, I'd be happy to let them help.

I talked to a mom friend about it. She let;s her 5-year-old make homemade scrubs and use them.

My kids love spray bottles and always want to help me clean the house. I never let them because even though I use Method or Seventh Generation, I'm still freaked out about chemicals that could hurt them.

The added bonus is that the cleaners are super duper cheap. Pennies for a 16 ounce bottle. And, you can scent them how you like, which is huge for me. I can't stand artificial chemical smells.

I got some supplies yesterday and hope to make the cleaners this week. The boys will be amped. They (ages 2 and 4) love to spray bottles and wipe walls. Why stop the trajectory if I can get them to help me out and learn to clean house?

I would also like to try making my own laundry detergent. I watched a good Youtube video outlining the process, and have a good, nontoxic recipe. They claim it costs about $8 to make a 6 month supply, and you can just funnel it into your empty detergent bottles. I'm going to try it to see how it goes, one day when the boys are out and about. I think I'm getting a good deal paying $2 to $3 a bottle for detergent, but $8 for 6 months sounds even better!

In other news, I've managed to pay just shy of $3,000 ($8 shy, to be exact) off the principal of the car loan so far this year. I have four more extra freelance gigs that should be paying up within the next two months too, so that should also help inch us closer to a paid off car!