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Archive for February, 2011

February Summary

February 28th, 2011 at 08:48 am

I know it has been a while since I posted an update, but a couple of my posts got eaten by being auto logged out and I was pretty frustrated. Decided not to redo them right away.

February has been a great month for us! We paid off $999.57 worth of debt and managed to save $1000 for our baby e-fund as well as almost $500 toward future known expenses (i.e. property taxes, water bill, kids activities, etc). We managed all that and had money left in our account at the end of the pay cycle! We didn't use overdraft protection AT ALL! We stayed within our grocery budget and our eating out budget and managed to squeeze out $150 extra to pay toward the credit cards. And tomorrow we will be paying off the second of our 4 credit cards!

I can't wait to see what March is going to bring, however, I have a feeling that a bunch of our potential extra savings will be going toward putting gas in our vehicles since the gas prices jumped up $0.35/gallon this weened. Ouch! It already took about $100 to fill my truck at $3.09 a gallon. Thank goodness I only have to fill it about once a month!

Switching topics for a minute, I came across a suggestion of making your own laundry detergent to save a bunch of money. This sounds like genius but maybe a little too good to be true. Does anyone here do this? Do you use the powder or liquid version? Do you see good results with this? With a family of 4 including one toddler, this could be a SIGNIFICANT place for savings for us, to the tune of $25 per month or more! Nervous about jumping in with both feet though. We use a "scent free" version do to skin sensitivity and wonder if the homemade stuff will cause a possible reaction. Thoughts?

Done shopping for the month? YES!

February 15th, 2011 at 10:55 am

Those of you who bothered to be bothered by my posts last week know that I was struggling with grocery shopping on a budget. Well, I accomplished that goal and was thrilled by it, but in looking at what I have in the fridge/freezer/pantry I have decided to try to make it through the rest of the month with out ANY more shopping. (There is one very small exception of having to get more milk. There are 5 kids around here who guzzle the stuff!) This is a personal goal as I am the one who does ALL the shopping, cooking and cleaning up, so I am really going to have to fight against the urge to "grab something" when I am tired of all of the above. This weekend saw $400 go out of our account to replenish our supplies and plan for the next 2 weeks between Woodman's, Sam's Club, Costco and Target. Whew!

If I can make it 2 more weeks without shopping (or eating out) we will be roughly $250 ahead of our budget between Food:dining out and Food:groceries categories, allowing us to be $250 closer to our buffer. Or maybe use it to pay $250 more to our credit cards. I can't decide which! My heart says leaving it in the account will get us that much closer to a lot less stress no longer living paycheck to paycheck (YNAB) but my head says "think of the interest payment we would save, BE GAZELLE!" (DR). Don't know which to listen to right now, but I am going to have to make it to the end of the month without do any more shopping before I can answer that question.

We only have one more credit card payment to make this month and it will be leaving our account on Friday. For the first time ever, I find myself looking FORWARD to getting the credit card statements because I can't wait to update my snowball spreadsheets, clear them in YNAB and re-total my debt progress. First statement should hit tomorrow followed by another on Friday, but I am actually stalking the accounts online looking for info instead of hiding from the mailman. Man, is that a change in behavior!

Grocery shopping success

February 11th, 2011 at 07:47 am

Yesterday I posted about how I was nervous about being blindsided by the cost at the register. The suggestions I got were wonderful (THANK YOU!) and I went around the store writing the approximate prices next to the items on my list, then added them all up when I was done. If I picked anything extra up I put it on the list with a price. That sure kept me from putting too much in the cart! At the end, my total was $130 and everything rang up at $127! Pretty darn close and I felt great about knowing that I stuck to the budget but got everything I needed. Huge sigh of relief there! And it was so easy that I think I am going to start doing the same thing at Target and Costco too! That way I can put things back easily if I see I am going over.

Also, while I was at Target I signed up for there Red Card that saves you 5% every time you shop. But NOT the credit card.....they offer the exact same thing in a DEBIT card! All you need is a drivers license and a voided check to get started and they hook it right to your checking account with a pin number. Took less than 5 minutes to get started and saved my $4 last night. I hate coupons so this is a great way to save that I don't even have to think about.

Headed to Costco and Sam's sometime today to finish the great stock up, but then I don't think I need to do any shopping for at least 2 weeks, with the exception of bread and milk thanks to menu planning and shopping with a list. Whew!

Tonight is date night with the hubby. We have a little childcare co-op going with 2 other couples where we rotate which couple watches all 5 kids on Friday night and the other 2 couples get to have a date. So for every time you watch 5 kids, you get two Friday night dates. Have been doing it since November and it makes going out on a date actually affordable since we don't have to spend $50 on a sitter. Plus, DH and I are getting a chance to reconnect and that has been wonderful and definitely necessary.

We did it!

February 10th, 2011 at 11:40 am

We made it to payday! No overdrafts, no borrowing from savings, no getting caught off guard by check clearing unexpectedly. A HUGE sigh of relief! The balance in our checking account last night was $4.07, but we made it. I know many of you may think I am celebrating a silly thing, but I feel like running down the street shouting about it. We had gotten into a cycle of going backwards further and further with every month and now we are actually going the other way! WOOOOOOHOOOOOO!

Ok. I'm better now. The much anticipated YNAB update came out this morning so I spent about an hour moving things around in my budget/register to work right. They added a couple of great features so I no longer need to worry about "tricking" it into doing things the way I want with the credit cards. Allows me a chance to have everything back in one place so I can think about retiring my old spreadsheets. Who am I kidding....I LOVE my spreadsheets and they aren't going anywhere!

Did my menu planning for the week and made out my grocery and Target lists for tonight. I really hate grocery shopping, but am extra anxious this week because I know I have to stick to a budget for the month and don't want to spend too much this trip. I know it sounds silly, but this is the first time I have ever grocery shopped with an actual budget amount. I have always just shopped then adjusted the "budget" to reflect what I spent. I am determined to not do that this time. I don't want to be surprised by the amount when I get to the check out but don't know how to do that other than using a calculator, but I am afraid that it will get cleared out and I will have to start over half way through. Anyone have any hints?

How much "Dave" is the right amount?

February 8th, 2011 at 05:36 pm

DH and I are trying to follow Dave Ramsey's Total Money Makeover, but having some trouble figuring out how much of his advice we are truly comfortable with. First, we will be done with Baby Step 1 (EF=$1000) on Thursday. We have already begun Baby Step 2, the debt snowball, and have some great projections. However, we are combining it with the YNAB buffer method of having 1 months income in the bank at all times to help with our cash flow woes, so funding that is happening concurrently with the snowball. Our buffer should be fully funded by the end of June and then we can attack the snowball even harder from there. Both DH and I are comfortable with this.

The part that is giving us trouble is the part about using all of our savings to blast the snowball. Right now we have about $15,000 in an annuity that we have been funding for the last 12 years. If we cleaned out this fund (or left just enough to keep it open), we would be able to pay off 1/3 of our overall debt, but when we even THINK about doing that it feels like a punch in the gut. This account is the only thing we have been doing RIGHT with our money since we got married and we both hate to un-do it. What do you think? Is this a necessary thing to really get us "on the program" or can we just look at it as already having Baby Step 3 done before we are done with BS2? Are we drinking enough of the Kool-aid to make it work?

Down to $70 and doing alright

February 7th, 2011 at 11:52 am

Well, Thursday is payday and we are down to $70 in the bank, but I am determined to make it there without having to "borrow" money from savings. We are low on milk and out of juice, but we have bread and peanut butter so we can eat. Usually by this time each month we are close to being this low on funds but have already "borrowed", actually stolen, from savings and that money was gone already. This time we are low on funds but I know we can make it!

In other news, DH is going out of town tomorrow for a trip to Providence, RI so he will have to take a credit card with him. We don't want to ever use them again, but he has to pay for hotel/travel and then get reimbursed for it. Hopefully he can get paid back quickly so we don't have to pay interest charges on it.

Also, for the first time EVER, we had a budget meeting this morning. DH's head was spinning quite a bit by the time we were done, but he seemed to be on board. Apparently YNAB, 3 spread sheets and 2 websites were too much information for one sitting. But we talked about his concerns and he seems to be completely on board for the first time since I met him. This has me flying on cloud 9 and believing for the first time that we can actually get out of debt!

Just saved $40!

February 3rd, 2011 at 08:32 am

With all the snow yesterday and school canceled, I had an extra kid here all day which earned me $30 unexpectedly. Will be adding that to the buffer fund next week when I get paid.

Also, since DH was snowed in with us, we took the time to give both him and my son their haircuts. Used to spend $40 a month taking them to get hair cuts at the local Sports Clips and now I am getting pretty good at cutting their hair at home with a clippers. Before we started this budget last month though, I looked at it as a chore instead of a savings. Yesterday, I finally saw it as money in my pocket for the first time. Yeah!

The mortgage was paid last week, which means we have very little money to last us until the next paycheck on the 10th. Just over $200 for a family of 4. We are getting good at making it through these rough patches, but that was usually by "borrowing" from savings to bridge to next pay period and then never getting that money paid back to savings. That landed us in mega trouble last month and I am determined to make it to the 10th without needing to transfer anything into the account. It can be done and we WILL do it! Then next check we don't start out in a hole and can begin to build a buffer to get us out of this situation entirely. Can't wait!