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Archive for February, 2014

Weird windfall week

February 24th, 2014 at 03:30 pm

This was apparently the week of the snowflakes.
Maybe the universe knew I was feeling sorry for myself because No Spend Month is going badly!

Anyway, in the mail this week, I got $19 worth of rebate checks I totally forgot about: four of them total, all in one week. Two for paint from the playroom re-do, and two from various bottles of booze we gave as Christmas gifts.

And the big one. I did a 6-week weight loss and fitness challenge with some of my gym friends. We all paid $20 to enter, winner take all. I won! $220! I couldn't believe it. Lost 6 pounds (the person who loses the highest percentage of body weight wins).

The rebate checks will be going to the mortgage.

As for the $220...Dh and I talked about it. An old old friend from high school who I had lost touch with died in a car accident last week. I'd been trying to find her, and I found her via her obit, which is a terrible feeling. She was 37 and has 5 kids. Anyway, there is a memorial fund at a local bank, to help provide for the kids, and we think that would be the best use for that money.

Sure, it'd be nice to throw that to the mortgage, but in the grand scheme, we're doing okay.

Floored but in a good way.

February 14th, 2014 at 01:15 am

We just got the hubby's 401k statement. In the past 7 years, we've socked away $291,000, including gains (and losses, hello recession) and company match. Every time he complains about his job I'm going to remind him of the company match on the 401k. It was $10,000 last year.

I want to get pinched, it's almost too good to be true!

We also found out hubs will be getting an annual bonus at the end of the month because his group met their goals. Not sure how much that will be, but it will be a welcome addition to the savings account AND paying down the mortgage.


Frugal Feb. paying off...

February 13th, 2014 at 02:55 pm

Our low-spend frugal February seems to be paying off.

The credit card bill is tiny, so I'll have to spend significantly less of the paycheck to pay it all.

There is good food in the fridge all the time. We're starting to realize where all of our missing money goes-- eating out. Ugh!

The kids aren't feeling deprived. Although we aren't going out to eat as much, we're remembering cheaper ways to still have treats. i.e. hot fudge sundaes from the sweets shop instead of a full meal out.

For the first time in months I was actually able to fund my IRA when the freelance check came, instead of using it to cover bills. I stashed $532 this month for retirement.

I'm remembering what I do and don't like spending money on, as in, what I value the most and what I don't value at all.

So yes. I'm happy! Tomorrow will mark the end of week 2. Things are overall going well.

I think I might continue this in March, albeit with a slightly higher budget. Might as well try to keep the momentum going. I have a house to pay off!

Oh, and I almost forgot. While poking around on my credit card site, I realized instead of only getting points to spend on Amazon, I could request a statement credit for the same value. So yeah, money off the top of the credit card bill. Why didn't I realize this before? I just used $60 in credits to pay down the bill. Felt good.

First week of No Spend Month

February 7th, 2014 at 01:24 pm

Well, things are going okay for our frugal February no spend month. We have $600 for the month ($300 each pay period).

I thought I'd be the problem, turns out it's hubby! He's killing us financially by always taking the kids out to eat. Argh. He's taken them out twice this week, for a total of $60! Seems like he just automatically takes them out after their sports activities, and doesn't tell me in advance, so I can't even pack him a coupon (which I had, so I'm extra steamed.)

Anyway, we did great on the grocery front. But, we are starting with a freezer full of meat and other foods, and a pantry full of canned garden produce. This would be harder, I admit, if we were starting with bare cabinets. I do suspect it will get harder at the end of the month, as the reserves go.

Here is a round-up of the first week's expenses:
Week 1:
$25- lunch at Five Guys, to celebrate DS1's swim promotion
$30- Steak and Shake dinner (boys. Hubby is killing the budget!)

$76.61- Groceries, includes, and more:
org. cherry tomatoes, melon, bananas
5 lb red potatoes
sh. cheddar cheese, bread
$15 in kid fun food splurges because they're eating at home more
2 gal organic milk
organic kids yogurt
3 on sale fluorescent light bulbs
1 container organic raisins
1 pack smart dogs meatless hot dogs

$18, Peets coffee, for hubby's coffee addiction

$4.20, kids treat out at favorite bakery on school snow day

$8, indoor soccer session for hubby.

Week 1 total= $161.81

So yes. Overall, I think we did well. I just need to reign in hubby on eating out. Without last night's foray to fast food, we would have ended the week $20 under budget, now we're 10 over. And, if I point out that those two meals out means $60 we COULD have sent to the mortgage instead, maybe that will make the point clear.

NSD and snow day kids project ideas?

February 5th, 2014 at 01:54 pm

Yesterday was the first NSD of no spend month, so yay!
We had 10 inches of snow last night and school was cancelled --again. So boo.

Since Christmas break ended we've had five snow days, two random days off school for teacher in service,plus a government holiday. I'm starting to feel like life will never be back to normal. Ugh.

Tell me again why I thought staying at home with kids and freelancing with heavy deadlines every week was a great idea? Oh yea, because I didn't know anything about preschool or children!

Now that we are snowed in again, I'm trying to figure out what projects to do with the kids. I feel like I used up all of my good ideas during last week's 3 snow days! We had tons of cardboard and we made 3-D cardboard godzillas, a battlefield for the army men, complete with cardboard mountains, and a fort.

Today? No ideas. Except maybe salt dough, but I don't have much salt. Of course. It's hard with my kids in particular because they do not like arts and crafts. Clearly they do not take after their artsy mom.

I was thinking of maybe having them fill up the dixie cups for seed starting, but I'm not sure I have the right potting mix. This storm really caught me off guard!

Here are the 'finished' godzillas:

Three days into no spend month, meal plan?

February 3rd, 2014 at 02:38 pm

Well, it's begun! We're officially three days into our low to no spend month. We've budgeted $600 for the month for any expense that isn't a regular monthly bill.

We also have two special allowances for planned events: $30 to cover tickets for the Lego movie for the boys, plus $60 for the school fundraiser tickets at the end of the month. We opted to handle these this way because they were planned in advance, and those amounts will cover part but not all of the events, so we still have to make thrifty choice while we're there.

Anyway, the $600 includes all of our discretionary spending, gas, groceries, entertainment, meals out, etc. The hope is that by being more careful and disciplined, we will free up some cash to throw at the mortgage, put more in savings, and generally hit the thrifty reset button.

So far, hubby spent $25, on Saturday, to take the boys out to Five Guys. Our 5-year-old graduated to the next level in swim classes, and it's customary to celebrate.

I'm working on the meal plan. Normally, I map out the entire week and do a big grocery shop to fill in any blanks and buy fresh produce. This week, it's kind of weird. I'm trying to use up what I have in the freezer and pantry, conserve as much of our monthly budget as possible, and cut down on trips to the store. I only have three days planned so far. My routine is already messed up!

So far, we're eating

Mon: chicken fajitas and quesadillas for the kids
Tue: beef roast from the freezer, with carrots, potatoes
Wed: Chick/veg soup from the leftover chicken
Thur: MAYBE spaghetti, meatballs and homemade sauce

After that, I'll likely have to shop for milk, so I'll just go all at once to get what we need.

I have decided that any and all 'treats' will have to be homemade. I don't want the kids to feel like they have to go totally without, and I would like to encourage them to help me more in the kitchen, so maybe more homemade cookies is the cure for that. And budget friendly.

So far, the weekend has been pretty much business as usual. We had a birthday party at our house Saturday night for Dh and my sister. We already had liquor and beer on hand, and everyone seemed to bring something as well, so the only output was in food, and most of that counted toward last month's food bill. I think we spent maybe $50 on food? Everyone had a good time, so it was worth it.

Yesterday, we had a kids' birthday party to go to that included a pizza party lunch, then we drove to my mom's house for a special birthday dinner for hubby and sister. All of our meals were covered!