Today I reduced our monthly bills by $109, and it felt great. Our 2-year contract was up last month. It's something I've been thinking about doing for a while now but kept talking myself out of it.
After watching Downsized, I decided to cancel. The Bruce family met with a financial planner who questioned their cable bill as something of importance. It made me realize that the TV keeps me from doing a lot of stuff that needs to be done.
Years ago we had cable and my husband commented that he would get a lot more done if we didn't have it. I cancelled the next day. With less options on TV, we did more. When we moved, we could barely pick up any local channels. This was before the digital switch so the channels were grainy. Cable was not an option to us so we went with satellite TV. I have enjoyed it but feel it is the right time to let it go.
Now if I can cut $100 from our budget weekly, that'd be awesome.
Today I reduced our monthly bills by $109, and it felt great. Our 2-year contract was up last month. It's something I've been thinking about doing for a while now but kept talking myself out of it.
The past two weeks we have been back to using cash for everything except gas. I'm proud to say that the cast lasted the whole two weeks.
It was a little rough after the first week. I didn't start week two with as much cash as I had expected. Plus with the fair and a trip to the pumpkin patch, I had doubts that I could make the cash last. But it did. For the first time in a long time, we actually had money in the account on payday and didn't touch savings.
These past two weeks I haven't worried about money. Using cash gives me hope we can finally make our money work for us and start saving more.
A few months ago, we tried the envelope system for everything but gas. It is just too convenient to swipe the debit card at the pump instead of paying with cash. Last week we went back to using cash for everything except gas.
It seemed last time to take about a pay period to get used to cash. Using cash shows us how much we spend without really thinking about it. The weekend after payday is always the worse. We will spend $100-$200 without even realizing it - and we're not buying stuff. It's from eating out and impromptu trips to the grocery store. Maybe a trip to the bookstore is thrown in there. But using cash we see the ugly truth - we are spending way too much money.
I love cash because it means that the bill money is in the bank. I don't have to worry about figuring groceries, lunches, etc. out of the amount in our account.
I have been saving my receipts so that I see where every penny of the cash went. This way I know exactly where I need to tighten up my spending.
It is such a relief to spend cash. Now hopefully we can get our spending under control and get rid of our debt.
Coupons are not just for household items and food. Yesterday we went to the zoo. My friend had sent me a coupon book that included a zoo coupon for $3 off adult tickets and $2 off children. The coupon was good for up to three admissions. We saved a total of $8. Plus we picked up another zoo coupon on the trip that expires next summer.
Now my coupon saving money jar does not look so barren. My coupon jar now has $10.25 that I have saved using coupons.
This year we doubled our flexible spending account amount. Next year we will drop it back down, but this year we wanted to get a some major dental work done.
My husband had a tooth extraction today and had to visit an oral surgeon. We had to pre-pay $280. The whole procedure is right at $500 and insurance is not expected to pay any of the $300 anesthesia bill. So, in a few weeks it's possible we will be getting the rest of that bill.
Thank goodness for the flexible spending account. It just makes me feel better that at least we have one financial area that we have planned out. Now if we can get the rest of the budget as well thought out we will be in good shape.
Recently I started clipping coupons. I have never really done this because I could never find coupons to products I actually bought anyway. Lately I've been finding a few in the Sunday newspaper. I know I can look for online coupons and will probably branch out once I get used to using coupons.
I've been paying myself the money I save. Hopefully once a month we will be able to take the money and do something fun.
So far, I have saved 90 cents.
But I'm not discouraged. I don't have a lot of coupons. It seems that most of my current coupons are for yogurt or snacks - I only buy so much of both. My biggest problem will be remembering which coupons I have and to use them before they expire. Right now that is my filing system - the ones closest to expiration are at the front of my coupon holder.
It seems our emergency fund never gets to be a nice, padded amount. There is always an emergency that comes up - which makes me think we should be added more categories to our monthly budget.
This week we will have to replace a tire on my husband's Jeep. It has been a money pit since we bought it. It does get us around but it has just had one issue after another. The Jeep is used so you expect some problems but still it is really getting aggravating. The lesson also to learn from this is to never spend money when you feel rushed. We needed a new vehicle really bad and jumped on the first one we found. Never again. I hate that I keep having to pay stupid taxes as Dave Ramsay would call it.
We'll survive but it just seems like we are barely treading water lately. My job at the beginning of the year just wasn't for me. I had to quit or lose my sanity. Now I'm thinking being sane is overrated and should have stayed with the job. Hopefully we can get back in the driver's seat in September. Between my husband's raise and dropping a few bills, we should see a nice increase in our budget. Maybe then we can stop dipping into the emergency fund so much.
Next Monday I began working full-time again and with it will come a nice boost to the family budget. The majority of the money will be used to pay off our debt as we want to start planning for the future and really need our debt gone.
I can't wait for the day that I send the last payment to my college credit card. That's the longest relationship I've ever had but it is high time we parted ways.
2009 went by in a flash and very few of our financial goals saw fruition. One thing I do know is that keeping on top of our budget daily helps us stay within budget. 2009 wasn't a bad year for us. Stressful at times but overall a good year. Now that it is 2010, it is time to start making fresh resolutions that deal with old debt.
I stay at home with my daughter. I have stayed at home for about three years. One year I did work part-time and loved it. I was laid off and have since been at home. Now I might have a chance to return to work full-time with the same company doing the same job and more responsibilities. It's exciting because we could really start paying off some debt but sad since I would be away from home more.
Overall goal for 2010 is to get rid of our credit card debt and a job for me would surely help us out a lot.
Today is payday for my hubby. Since we are tired of living paycheck to paycheck, we have resolved to live on less than we make starting today.
For me that means sticking to a budget. I plan on using eBay to make my spending money and to keep unplanned spending to a minimum. It'll be hard because I'm a firm believer in retail therapy. Either I shop or eat when I'm feeling down. I need to change both of those habits.
My goal for June is to start using coupons. So many times I have coupons that are for products I don't normally buy so they do me no good. But lately I have found a few that have been of products I actually buy on a regular basis.
My husband has been taking his lunch to work. He likes the Minute Rice in a cup. It's microwavable and comes in a two pack. The wrapping had a coupon for $1 off 2 rice packs. So since I buy 2 at a time anyway, this would be a coupon I would use.
I actually remembered to use the coupon - unlike my $5 off The Sims 3 coupon from Target I totally forgot about. Any money saved from using coupons goes into the $20 challenge.
So I'm up to $14.76 cash but need to add my Gamefly membership that I would have paid for June to the kitty.
Hopefully I will be using more coupons in the coming weeks and saving a lot more money.
I can't believe it is already mid- June and I haven't been tending to this blog. My one excuse for the past week at least has been sickness. I caught whatever is going around then of course my husband and daughter now have it. But before that, I'm not sure what happened to make me not update here as often as I should.
One issue is that I just haven't felt on top of our money as I did in May. My husband had a smaller check because of negative earned time off, so that put us in a bind. Since then I just can't seem to get back on track.
I have a rough budget for the month but need to look at our bills again. I'm behind on my credit card payment but plan to get that taken care of either this week or the next. First I need to make a little extra money to help get back on track.
Hopefully now that I'm feeling better I can get things going again. We still want to be credit card debt free by the end of the year, which means we need to tighten our belts and make some extra cash.
We went out of town this weekend. We hardly ever go anywhere, so we decided to 'live it up.' Of course we went over budget on spending. We had taken cash and when that ran out, we turned to the debit card. So the rest of the month will be filled with frugal spending and trying to make extra money to not rely so heavily on savings to make up the difference.
Even though we went over, I wouldn't change anything. It was such a great weekend and one that was much needed.
We had budgeted roughly $400 for the trip but spent closer to $500. With my husband's pay check being about $300 less due to him being in the negative for earned time off, going over budget will cut steeper into savings. That makes me sad since savings is finally getting to a nice amount. But hopefully next month we can rebuild savings and put back at least half of what we are taking out this month.
We are going out of town for the weekend and I'm super excited about it. When we travel we try to be as frugal as possible about some things so that we can enjoy what we want in other areas.
Food is a good example. We will bring snacks, drinks, and sandwich items so that we can save money at meal time. This way those meals that we do eat out can be a little nicer.
We also always stop at the welcome center when traveling to pick up brochures and coupons.
So how do you save money when traveling?
So my husband's company was sold and he was hired by the new company. They take over in a few weeks. But one of his co-workers who wasn't hired by the new company has found a new job that wants him to put together a team for a 3 year project. He asked my husband if he was interested since the pay could be substantially more. The downside is that my husband would have to travel - something he isn't crazy about doing.
I told my husband that I would support him if he wants to pursue this new job. We have moved several times through the years for my job, so now it's my turn to support him.
Since the money is so much more than we are living on now, we could be debt free within a year if we just take all that money and apply it to our debt. That is our plan. However, I'm a little nervous since two years ago I would have thought that if we made as much as we do now then we could be debt free fast. It just seems with each pay raise that our expenses somehow go up and we don't send as much to bills as we think we can.
All of this news makes me glad I started this blog. Here I can keep myself accountable to the Saving Advice community and send that money to pay off our debt instead of spending it somehow.
This is still all up in the air. I kind of hope he gets it since I've been itching for some sort of change to happen in our lives.
My husband's job has been crazy this year. First the company filed bankruptcy and then they were sold to another company. But the new company isn't hiring everyone. So that has been up in the air if he would be hired until about two weeks ago when he found out he would be hired. Now he is in the last few weeks before the new company takes over.
He has a negative personal time balance and knew that the company planned to take it from one of his checks. Well they are taking it out of Friday's paycheck. His check will be $300 less.
This weekend we are planning to go out of town - a trip I have been looking forward to for weeks. My husband was worried we would have to cancel since his check will be less.
Here is the beauty of budgeting and saving. I already know how much of his check will need for bills and the amount he will receive will cover it. Our weekend trip was coming from money in savings anyway, so it is already paid for. We usually 'blow' at least $100 on non-essential stuff. We'll just cut that out and we will only be down $200 - the amount he has automatically put into savings from his check. So if we really need it, we can just grab it from savings.
I'm hoping to eBay and do some online writing to make up the difference and not have to pull it from savings. Still it's nice to know it is there in savings if we need it.
So maybe my $30 estimate for groceries for the week was a little on the low side. I spent $54 but not all of it was grocery-related. I picked up the girl some more paint and paint brushes. That was probably close to $10(it was big pack of brushes plus a palette to mix paint), but she loves to paint. It will keep her occupied for hours so definitely well worth the money.
I did buy a few items like toilet paper that we don't necessarily need today but might need by the end of the week. I'd rather buy it now than have to return to the store later in the week.
I will probably hold off on the digital TV converter but go ahead and buy the fan. It's really hot and a fan would help out greatly.
This weekend I canceled my Gamefly membership. I love to play games and had signed up a few months ago. But it seems lately I've been playing less games and it just seemed pointless to keep it going.
So I'm going to add that money to the $20 challenge. It's $17, so my new total is $30.76. By Christmas, that will be a savings of $136 alone.
This week should be pretty easy as far as groceries are concerned. We have a few things in the pantry that I plan on using. So I should can spend less than $30 and get everything I need.
This week I also hope to buy an oscillating fan. This week Walgreen's has a deal on their 3 speed fans. You buy one and get Register Rewards. So I can spend $1 more for the fan($19) and get $5 in Register Rewards. I just have to remember to use them before they expire.
I would also like to pick up a digital TV converter box. I have the coupon, so it should only cost us $13.
So I'm looking at spending around $65 this week. I have about twice that amount in my bills/grocery account. If I can stick with that, then we should be in really good shape for our weekend trip out of town.
Today the girl woke up at 4am in the morning and crawled into bed with us. It wasn't too long after that my husband rolled out of bed to give us more room. Well when I woke up, I found that he had already been to town and bought Diet Cokes(yes!) and pink and white roses.
I love fresh cut flowers but really don't like spending money on them. I worried that he spent way too much money. But found the receipt. He spent a total of $20 on roses, so that's not too bad. So now I can fully enjoy them knowing they won't put us in a financial bind this week before payday.
So I've been reading a lot about the $20 Challenge and have decided to give it a try. I'm hoping to save enough money to have a decent Christmas fund by December.
My plan is to cut out some unnecessary bills and to spend less at the grocery store. So I will keep my grocery budget but when I come under that amount, I will put the difference into the $20 Challenge fund.
I've decided to start the challenge with the $7.76 cash that I got from a refund check and $5 that I received from my Mom for some medicine that I picked up for her.
So far I have $13.76.
I already know a few expenses I plan to cut but will post more about those once I've canceled them.
Between my husband and me, we have about 25 nieces and nephews. This year two are graduating from high school and one is graduating from college. This makes for a stressful May as we try to attend graduations and two of these will be out of town.
We probably won't make the college graduation. Next year she will be attending a 4 year college. It's this weekend and it's out of town. So we are going to send a card. I'd like to send a little gift but need to be frugal since it isn't budgeted. The other two graduations are in the month's budget.
I'm thinking I can take some of the scrap booking supplies I have that I'm seriously considering selling on eBay and make her a card. Then I could possibly crochet her something from my massive yarn stash. I'm so proud that she will be attending my Alma mater next year and am thinking I could whip up an afghan in the school's colors. There is no way I could do it by the weekend but it would be a nice 'send off' gift before she actually goes on campus in the fall.
I could make a no sew blanket even though I would have to buy the fleece. It still could be a nice gift for under $15. I definitely want to do something with the school's colors.
Any frugal graduation gift ideas would definitely be appreciated.
Today I cashed a check for a whopping $7.76. It was a refund from an overpayment to one of our paid off credit cards. Instead of depositing it into the checking account, I decided to cash it to have a little money on hand. While I was cashing it, the teller said, 'every little bit helps.'
$7.76 can buy me a meal or several drinks. It's just nice to have a few dollars in your pocket. I stay at home so I don't need a lot of cash but it is handy to have a few dollars for a drink or for the train ride at Wal-Mart(when I have the three year old with me).
In the spirit of every little bit helps, I do plan on joining the $20 Challenge. I also plan to start making small, weekly payments to our lowest credit card debt. Even if it's only $10, it will add up over time. I just have to keep in mind that even the smallest amount of money can make a difference when it comes to paying off debt or saving money.
Last month I tried something different with our money. We have two checking accounts. They aren't his/her accounts but one is an account I had started for my freelancing money. Last month I tried using that account for paying bills. So when my husband got paid, the first thing I did was to move the bill money to that account. I also move the grocery money and household expense money. That way what is left in the checking account is gas money and lunch money for my husband. That way he knows how much money he has to make last until the next pay period.
What always happens to us is that we spend way more than we should when my husband first gets paid. We have money in the bank, so like dummies, we think we can afford to splurge. Then what happens is we don't have enough money to pay all of our bills. It's really been depressing since my husband makes enough money for the bills and for our other expenses.
It worked really well last month. It was definitely less stressful so I'll do it again this month.
We are huge fans of Dave Ramsey and have tried the envelope system before. We may go back to it for groceries, gas, and lunches. That would help us build up our checking account if we aren't constantly tapping it for expenses. That's the great thing about cash. It keeps you on a budget.
Today was the day to pay the bills for the first of the month. This included the big credit card. We have two credit cards. One has a little over $1800 while the big one has a balance of $12,500. Every time I make the payment to the big credit card, I can't help but to think of all the things we could do with this money if it wasn't for out debt.
My goal for 2009 is to have our credit cards paid in full. Right now I will be lucky to have the small one paid off at the rate I'm going. There is still time to get on track and pay off both by the end of the year. It just means budgeting and tightening up our spending.
We may have to live on a tighter budget for a while but in the end, it will be worth it. Having this blog will help me keep accountable and on track.