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$120 to savings!

December 7th, 2011 at 08:31 am

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 12:55 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 09:03 am

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 24th, 2009 at 05:11 pm

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 07:21 am

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 10:12 am

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 08:32 am

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 08:36 am

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 07:18 am

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 01:07 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 01:24 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 08:17 am

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 08:30 am

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?????