Friday, November 9, 2012

I am SO excited!

Whew.  Break over.  Blogging (almost) every day for 31 days kind of got the best of me.  I was afraid I would run out of things to talk about!  Onward and upward, I say.

I am so excited.  Do you know why?  Do ya?  DO YA?  No, of course you don't.  I am SO excited because in just 14 short days, my husband and I are going on a DATE.  . . . what?  Not that exciting?  It is if you haven't left the teeny tiny town you live in for close to three months!  For real peeps, I go to work and then I drive home.  Five days a week.  On the weekends I sometimes drive to the library or the park.  And then I drive home.  We haven't gone anywhere since the first of September, with the exception of a VERY short trip to pick up our couch.  We didn't even eat out.

We are going Christmas shopping, and I am so very very excited.  We're using a gift card my boss gave me last year and eating somewhere super fancy.  Le Olive Jardin.  Yep.  Ok, it's just The Olive Garden, but daaaaaaaaamn they've got some good breadsticks, eh?  We might even go to the movies.  I know, you're all green with envy.  I have a coupon! 

We're cutting our Christmas purchases way back this year.  We decided to buy #1 a DSi, but only after he saved up half of it.  #2 is getting a play kitchen that #1 got for his 3rd birthday and hasn't played with in two years.  It's been collecting cobwebs in the shed, and it's getting a buff and shine before making its way under the tree.  We're getting her a few new pots and pans, and I'm making some food to go along with it (I have this idea for a felt pizza . . . we'll see).

I'm doing homemade gifts for just about everyone else.  We're doing jelly, candy, breads, and other assorted goodies for extended family members.  I have numerous ideas for other gifts, and we'll see how many I actually finish.  Check back later on for details!


Wednesday, October 31, 2012

31 Days to Financial Freedom, Day 31: The End!

Well, today is the last day of my first 31 Days Challenge.  I didn't accomplish everything I wanted to show you all, but we accomplished a lot in our lives!  And I hope I've showed you a little something along the way.  I hope you'll stay with me as we continue on this journey.  I've still got a lot left to learn, and hopefully you can continue to learn through our mistakes and victories.  Paying our bills on time is one of the most gratifying things I have ever encountered.  Losing 12 pounds also didn't suck!  I'm not done, this blog isn't done, and I hope you'll keep following along!

I hope every has a fantastic Halloween, no matter how your family celebrates.  We'll be taking Captain American and Ms. Kitty out on the town, so everyone keep your fingers crossed for no rain! 

This 31 Days Challenge was . . . well . . . challenging.  Not only do I work full time, I'm a full time mom, wife, and student, so keeping up with posting everyday just wasn't in the cards for me.  I didn't want to prepare anything in advance, because I wanted you to live it right along with us.  Changing our spending habits was and will remain to be not easy.  It's a daily struggle to go from eating out 4 or more times a week, to eating at home.  But I am thrilled with the progress we've made so far.

I hope you'll stick around!

Monday, October 29, 2012

31 Days to Financial Freedom, Day 29: Percentages

I was watching my usual Financial marathon yesterday, including one DVRed episode of the Suze Orman Show, and two episodes of Till Debt do us Part.  The host of TDDUP was talking about her "Life Pie", and I jotted down some quick notes because I thought it was very interesting.  Here's Gail's Life Pie:

According to Gail, this is where your money should be going every month.  I wanted to see how our finances matched up with what Gail said we should do.  I sat down this morning to go through our budgeted amounts, and was kind of at a loss of where to start.  I Googled her Life Pie, and guess what I found?  A website that will do it for me!  Shut the front door!

I plugged in our information, and was slightly surprised that we were spending 165% of our income, and that our housing alone was 65% of our income.  Say whhaaaaaaat?  And then I figured out that was because I only put it half of our income.  Doy!

 I entered in all our information, and this is what the website told me:

Our total housing costs were $789, or 15.36%.  It should be 35%.
Our total transportation cost was $679, or 13.22%.  It should be 15%.
Our total life cost was $1,241, or 24.16%.  It should be 25%.
Our total debt cost was $150, or 2.92%.  It should be 15%.
Our total savings was $567, or 11.05%.  It should be 10%.
We're spending 66.72% of our income.

There are a few reasons this makes me feel better.  First, we're spending within our means, finally.  Second, I was concerned that our house was too expensive, and that's the reason we weren't getting ahead.  Seeing that we are way under our housing costs for the month is fantastic.  It also lets me know that I am on the right track, and where I should focus my efforts.  I have decided to make it a goal for November to pay off a majority of our debt.

Medical Bill #1: $390
Medical Bill #2: $359
Medical Bill #3: $450
Collection: $1,000
Mom: $1,000

I'll be honest, I haven't been able to make a payment on any of these bills in quite some time, with the exception of a $50 check I wrote to my mom last Friday.  I've been more concerned with paying my regular bills on time.  Two of those bills are already in collections, and another one is dangerously close to going there.  I'm hoping to combine Medical Bills 1 and 2 together and make one monthly payment on them.  Until I get #3 paid off, we can't go to the dentist.  #4 has already gone to collections and "dinged" my husband's credit score, so I'm not in as much of a hurry to pay that off.  I also want to prove to my mother that we're being responsible now, so that includes monthly payments to her as well.  I've rearranged our November budget a bit to accommodate for more spending on debt, and I'll keep you updated on how it's going. 

I hope you'll use the website above to see how you're doing!

Friday, October 26, 2012

31 Days to Financial Freedom, Day 26: Planning

This week, I've been putting together our budget, bills, and menu plan for November.  It's kind of weird how much I look forward to doing this every month!  The first thing I do is put together our expected bills for November, including an estimate of how much they'll be and when they are due.  I keep this as a working Microsoft Word document.  When I pay one bill, I move it down on the document to the December expenses, that way I'm not having to go back through my register to figure out when bills are due.  Here is our November estimated expenses:

November Bills
11/1     Mortgage         $618.54
11/1     A Paycheck     $400
11/1     A Fuel             $50
11/1     K Fuel             $30
11/2     K Paycheck     $950
11/2     Savings            $240
11/2     Daycare           $112
11/5     Student Loan  $62.74
11/6     Satellite           $54.56
11/7     Groceries         $100
11/8     A Paycheck     $400
11/8     A Fuel             $50
11/8     K Fuel             $30
11/9     Daycare           $115
11/10   Internet            $54.98
11/13   Car Insurance  $94.87
11/14   Groceries         $100
11/15   A Paycheck     $400
11/15   A Fuel             $50
11/15   K Fuel             $30
11/16   Student Loan  $59.76
11/16   Daycare           $115
11/16   K Paycheck     $950
11/16   Savings           $240
11/16   Car Payment   $283.61
11/21   Groceries         $100
11/22   Utilities           $180
11/22   A Paycheck     $400
11/22   A Fuel             $50
11/22   K Fuel             $30
11/22   Mom                $50
11/23   Daycare           $112
11/24   Gas                  $40
11/27   Cell phone       $103
11/28   Groceries         $100
11/29   Netflix             $17
11/29   A Paycheck     $400
11/29   A Fuel             $50
11/29   K Fuel             $30
11/30   Daycare           $115
11/30   K Paycheck     $950
11/30   Savings           $240

Also at the top of the page I keep a running balance so I know if I'll have to shift how much we spend on groceries or gas.  I also keep track of how much I have to pay daycare every week on this document.  It's always $100 a week for #2 (unless there's a no-pay-day), but #1's bill changes, depending on how often he gets off the bus there.

After I do our expenses, I create a new monthly budget on Microsoft Excel.  Items change month-to-month, depending on how many weeks are in the month.  For example, I get paid three times in November, and A gets paid five times in November, which means we'll put gas in our vehicles five times, versus the four we normally have.  Make since?  This makes our gas budget for the month go up from our gas budget for October. 

I'm still working on our menu plan for November.  We still have a little meat left, but I need to do an inventory this weekend to see what we have.  Also, a friend I have at work has a freezer full of meat that she's not eating, so she's offered it to us.  She bought a half a cow last year, then all her kids moved out of her house! 

In almost every other aspect of my life, I have always been a planner.  Finances were always a place I feel short on that planning aspect.  Planning out the month in advance lets us know that we're still not completely on track, because we still can't afford to pay our car payment when it's due.  It shows what weeks we'll fall short on, and where we can afford to take some wiggle room, especially for Christmas.  This is the first month in a long time that I'll be able to pay our mortgage payment on the due date.  That feels pretty darn good!! 

So, what do you do to plan out the month in advance?  Have you adopted a budget or menu planning for November?  How about a Christmas spending limit?