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I just saved $596!

March 17th, 2011 at 04:38 pm

First a little background: we decided to sell our paid for Jeep Grand Cherokee this past August in order to buy a much larger Chevy Suburban. It was mostly a business decision since I needed to be able to put 5 car seats in a vehicle and the Suburban was the only thing big enough. I do in-home daycare and needed to be able to transport the kids to/from pre-school, but couldn't justify a vehicle this big as being solely a work vehicle so it would have to double as our family vehicle. We found a great used truck but it still set us back $23k @ 5.25% and added a $443 car payment that we didn't have before.

That was 8 payments ago. Today, I noticed on our credit union's website that they are offering a special low interest rate of 3.99% for used cars; our interest rate from August was 5.25% so I called to see if we could refinance the loan to the lower rate and how much it would cost. Good news! For a 1-time fee of $85 we could "buy down" the rate keeping our term AND payments the same, so we would just be paying off the loan faster. Over the remaining payments this will save us $681 in interest and get the loan paid off in 2 fewer months! Less the $85 fee, that puts us $596 ahead and cuts 2 months off the snowball without have to put more money in each month.

February Summary

February 28th, 2011 at 04:48 pm

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 06:55 pm

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 03:47 pm

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.

"Vote early, vote often!" and other tales

May 18th, 2007 at 08:25 pm

I don't know how many of you saw it, but there was a blog contest out from 5/1 to 5/15 having to do with "Confessions of a...". There were several entries and everyone can now vote on their favorite 3. Go check out the blog section of the forums and vote! There were some great entries!

Now back to our regularly scheduled programming....

As of right now, my DH should be in New Zealand. He left yesterday afternoon and got there....tomorrow. He skipped Friday entirely. They are 17 hours ahead so it is already tomorrow morning. Can't quite wrap my head around it but what can I do. That means that for the next 2.5 weeks I am entirely on my own. I am not really "scared" just a littler nervous. I know it will be life as usual, but if something goes wrong, I will be the only one to deal with it. On the other hand, once I clean something it should stay that way for more than a few minutes. Smile

Right after work this afternoon we are headed to my parents house, about 2 hours away. Mom and I will be spending most of the weekend geocaching while Bumpa gets to play with Caleb. They are going to have a blast. Caleb is already talking about riding the Gator and Unky's 4-wheeler. He has a blast running around in the woods and chasing the dogs. We will be able to take him to the camp fire at the geocaching event on Friday night so that should be a good time. He will get to try his first Smore...mmmmmm can't wait!

Money wise, this weekend should be fairly low spend. Gas will be the only BIG expense. Put $65 worth in my car this morning and I am sure I will have to do the same before the end of the day tomorrow.

The past week has been a roller coaster for the budget. Scott needed quite a bit of stuff for his trip to NZ...power converter, travel size stuff, new pants, etc. That set us back a bit. Then I also had to buy a belated Mother's Day gift for my mom. I know she will love it, and I wanted to give her more, but I cringe just thinking about the money. Maybe that is a sign that I am healing my spend-thrift ways.

Rummage sale-o-rama!

May 11th, 2007 at 09:30 pm

Took the morning off of work today and went to some local garage sales with a friend of mine. The small community we were in has a city-wide sale at this time every year and they are fabulous! We spent 4 hours and only made it through ONE neighborhood. Spent $100 but got all of my sons summer clothes for this year, several toys, a folding easel, and 12 skeins of yarn. Great deals were everywhere!

Tomorrow are the neighborhood sales at the ritzy subdivision near our neighborhood so we may take a drive through there just to see what we can see.

The thing I love about garage sales, especially for kids stuff, is that when we are done with it we can get probably as much back out of it as we paid for it in the first place. Can't wait until I can start the stuff going out instead of only seeing it come in. My neighbor is having a sale in June and I might throw a few things in with her, just to be rid of them. Might as well make some money off it rather than sending it to Goodwill.

Should be a busy weekend around here. My parents are coming into town tonight, we are going to a friends house for dinner, tomorrow we are meeting friends at the farmers market, and then tomorrow night we are going to another friends house for dinner. The good news is that I don't have to cook for the next couple of nights, the bad news is that I have no time to get anything done. Oh well, there will be other weekends to worry about that stuff.

Went to the chiropractor last night about my spasming back and it turns out that my lower two ribs on the left side were completely out of joint. Don't know how I did it, but it hurt like hell. He put them back were they were supposed to be, then I had ice on it all night, finally took some Advil and this morning felt much better. Starting to get sore again tonight, but at least I can feel marked improvement. Will probably have to go back in on Monday, but we will see.

Have a great weekend everyone!


May 2nd, 2007 at 02:19 pm

Homebody asked in a comment to my last entry, what I made at my latest OAMC (Once A Month Cooking) session. Well, the list is huge, but here goes:

Pepper Steak
Polynesian Steak
Greek Burgers
Jamaican BBQ Chicken
Chicken Fajitas
Apricot BBQ Chicken
Moroccan Chicken
Ginger Honey Glazed Fish
New England Fish Cakes
Cajun Pork Stir-fry
Hawaiian Pork Kebobs
Tex-Mex Pork Wraps
Caribbean Chicken
Stir-fry chicken & veggies
Garlic Steak

A while back I wandered across a website called that had several freezer cooking documents available called "Mega Menu Mailers" or "MMM". It comes with a grocery shopping list, a prep list, and detailed assembly instructions to put together meal kits that you thaw and cook later, just like those meal assembly places that are so popular these days. Only problem is, my DH is allergic to CORN. All of those chain places use ingredients that are loaded with corn in the form of corn syrup, corn starch, modified food starch, maltodextrin, etc. With the MMM I can use the ingredients that I know are safe and I think I come out saving money. Basically for $150 worth of groceries I got 15 ready to cook meals that are safe for my family to eat.

There are 3 different sets of MMM that have 20 meals each (I don't make them all for personal tastes) and then there are several that are smaller with only 5 recipes, all for one type of meat. They just added a Vegetarian MMM too, but I haven't checked it out. Not really my cup of tea.

Here is the have to pay for them. Not a lot, and it is a one time fee, but it is still money out of pocket. For my family, though, it is worth it. No corn for DH, no nuts for DS and I only spend 6 hours cooking per month, it is just all at one time. Smile

Long time gone

May 1st, 2007 at 10:12 pm

Man, it has been forever since I had a chance to post. Last week was just INSANELY busy at work. I had very little time to even think straight, much less fill you in on anything. Then, the weekend was gorgeous so we spent most of it cleaning, working outside and spending time as a family.

Today I am suffering from the weekend spending hangover. Spent WAY too much money and I feel like I lost all my control. The worst part....I am the one who spent all the money. There were trips to Target, grocery store and the craft store that together totaled over $200. My available flexible cash for 2 weeks was $50. See the problem? I am going to have to take another loan from the savings account to cover the expenses. Makes me want to cry. I am going to look at my purchases tonight and make the decision on whether any of it can be returned. The groceries were something that we needed, but most of the craft store purchases were wants, not needs. All of the stuff from Target was household stuff that we needed, but we could have probably gone without for a while.

Well, last weekend my OAMC session went fabulously. We put together 17 meals EACH so that should take us most of the way through the month without having to grocery shop, besides bread, milk and eggs. We spent about 6.5 hours between the shopping and the assembly, which is pretty good for that many meals, I think. Last time I did it alone it took me almost twice that.

We have been eating a lot of PB&J for lunches and have managed to only eat out a handful of times in April. I am going to try to do a better analysis tonight when I import all the final April numbers into YNAB.

I scheduled a big transfer from our credit union to ING this morning. This will affectively move our entire freedom/EF account to the higher interest bearing ING account. If it is just going to sit there until we need it, might as well be earing a better interest rate that 0.75%. I will still be keeping track of it via the old spreadsheet method, but now it is just in a different place. Here is the best news though....I have paid back all of the money that we had borrowed from the freedom account in the form of overdraft protection. We were over $800 short, and I have managed to pay it back in about 3 months. However, we are still $1500 short in the long term savings account, but now I will shift my attention to paying that account back.

That is the long and the short of it. We are still hanging in there, but just barely. The debt is going down, but our daily expenses are not. Have to get them under control or we are doomed to repeat how we got here.

Paid surveys and OAMC session

April 20th, 2007 at 06:15 pm

After noticing that many of you are making some side money by completing online surveys, I thought I would check it out. Based on what I have read/heard/seen, I signed up with Pinecone Research (after finally finding a working link) and am waiting approval. I am thinking about signing up for another one as well and then trying it out before doing any more. The one I am looking at is Lightspeed Research. Anyone ever heard of them or done surveys for them?

Went grocery shopping last night for a few staples; OJ, crackers, fruit, etc. Didn't even have a cart full and came out with $99 worth. And everything we bought was on sale! We switched to frozen OJ, don't buy soda or chips, bought store brand everything that we could. It all just seems we are never going to be able to save money and eat well at the same time.

Will be going grocery shopping AGAIN tomorrow and Sunday because a friend and I are doing a marathon OAMC session. We are putting 20 meals together for each of us that will last us the better part of the month. But of course, buying the groceries is going to hurt the wallet A LOT! Last time I did this, it cost about $200, but the cost per meal was pretty low in the end. Took forever to put it together by myself, but should go a little faster with a friend.

Tomorrow is the first morning of the local farmers market. Around here, it is a wonderful social event and we look forward to it every weekend. This time of year they will have fresh asparagus, cheese curds, bedding plants, fresh baked goods. The weather is supposed to be beautiful and I can't wait. We start by getting a cup of coffee (chai for me) and then walking around the capitol square to check everything out. We buy on the second lap. Have to find the best price for asparagus!

Busy weekend, but should be fun. Looking forward to finally having some nice weather to enjoy. Should be in the mid seventies with sun and a breeze. In other words, perfect.

Lower cell phone bill?

April 19th, 2007 at 01:58 pm

Well, I finally convinced DH to switch our cell phone plan last night. It was quick and painless and MAY save us some money. It will definitely save us from the standpoint of not going over on our minutes.

Right now we have a nationwide family plan because DH was doing a lot of traveling for work. Base price: $69.99 for 700 minutes. Then we found out that we needed to add the unlimited incoming package when we tripled our minutes the first month because of all of Scott incoming calls at work (we had previously had it included but the new package charged extra). That added $14 per month for a total of $83.99 per month, add taxes and call it $90. YIKES! But in the past 3 months we have paid $220 EXTRA due to overages at 0.49 per minute. (DH is working on getting his work to pay most if not all of these costs)

The new LOCAL calling plan we are on still has the same base price, $69.99, (both of these are the lowest plans we can get) for 1000 minutes but the unlimited incoming package it $10 and the " free nights and weekends" starts at 7:00 instead of 9:00. Basically we will only save $4 per month, but will be a LOT less likely to go over our minutes. Also, the plan includes 45 minutes of roaming charges each month, so if DH DOES travel it is at least enough minutes for him to call and tell me he is OK.

Man, do I HATE paying this much money for something we survived just fine without when we first got married. Our culture sure has taken a big turn from just 10 years ago. When I was in college, I didn't even have a computer in my room! That was what the computer lab was for! Now the same school I graduated from requires all incoming freshmen to have not just a computer, but a LAPTOP! And there are 10 year olds getting cell phones!

Wait....did I just sound like my mom? Excuse me while I run screaming through the streets.....

April 3rd, 2007 at 09:39 pm

I recently found out about and was wondering if anyone here has used it. I have a bunch of books and CDs that I would be willing to part with but am wondering if it is worth the hassle of packaging and mailing. What do you think? Any words of caution? I am generally overly cautious about this kind of thing but the extra income at this point would be greatly welcomed.

We're havin' a party

March 28th, 2007 at 07:09 pm

DH's turns 32 in a couple weeks and we are going to have a small get together with friends. Just going to do a cook out with burgers and sides. But the challenge is that I am going to try to do it for as little money as possible.

The menu should be easy:
Burgers and buns (Sam's club)
Potato Salad
Baked Beans
Chips/Triscuits and Salsa/guacamole

Do you think it would be tacky to make it BYOBeer? That is where we end up dropping the most money. I already have the paper plates, napkins, cups, etc. leftover from Caleb's last couple of birthday parties so that save a little. I am planning on making the potato salad and buying the baked beans in bulk. I will also make the cake and possibly the salsa. Depends on time allowed.

Any tips for planning a party on a limited budget? All help is appreciated!