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Archive for October, 2005

Happy Halloween!

October 31st, 2005 at 06:10 pm

I cannot believe that the end of October is already here! Where did the time go? Had to go back to work today, and then grocery shopping for my incredibly expensive healthy food. Whole wheat anything costs at least twice as much as regular food. I got some whole grain dinner rolls, whole wheat pasta, steel cut oats...I hope this pays off. We stayed in tonight since the kids are too young to really understand Halloween and don't need the candy anyway (nor do we!). We carved pumpkins and opened the door for our two trick-or-treaters. At least we don't have to spend a fortune in candy to give away!
Total spent so far: $1514.52
Oct. 31: $76 at the grocery store
Total: $1590.52
Thank goodness this month is over and I won't have any big payments next month!
Just a few musings...it is amazing how much a change of attitude can change your spending habits. A few years ago, I was one of those see it, want it types of people. But something just clicked one day where all of a sudden, the difference between "wants" and "needs" became so clear. I need a shirt, I don't have to have a $40 shirt. A $5 shirt from the Salvation Army is just fine. I don't needs cd's, the radio keeps me entertained (I just "discovered" National Public Radio about 3 months ago - I am hooked!). I don't need to go out to bars every night - in fact, I preferred staying in and playing a game or watching a television show. When I do go out, I don't need to have a fancy drink - in fact, now I prefer water with my meals. When it really came down to it, I had everything I needed already. Sure, I still splurge on some things that I want - a fancy meal out, a weekend away, even a massage once in a blue moon - but I am not going to worry about not having enough money to pay the phone bill if I do. It's all a matter of prioritizing. To me, frugality is not about doing without things - it's about allocating your money to what is important to you. For me, taking care of my family's needs (food, clothes, education, healthcare, and occasional entertainment) comes first. Second is taking care of debt in order to get my family on the securest ground, and saving for future needs. A far distant third priority would be material things. I just don't have the need (or the space!) for them.
The really amazing part is that I do not for a second feel deprived. I have changed my views so much on what i need and want that I find there is little I really want to possess. When people ask me what I want for my birthday, I am hard-pressed to think if things. I tell me husband a lot, "how lucky I am to not want for anything." It's all a state of mind.

On another note - we decided with DH's family yesterday to downsize Christmas. I am SO glad. We have upwards of 25 people to buy for and it was just getting to be too much - too much money, time, and hassle. So for his family we have set a $10 "fun gift" limit. He is looking on E-bay right now for a fun find. I think for my family we are going to draw names. It was to the point where it took us hours to open gifts, and when we were all done, I had 30 things I did not need and would not use. So I am really looknig forward to enjoying Christmas shopping again this year Smile

Oct 29-30

October 30th, 2005 at 06:40 pm

Busy weekend. We spent yesterday going to two parties and then playing cards (found a babysitter after all - and since my SIL owed us, it didn't even cost us!). Today we went to Binghamton for my husband's sister's birthday. A nice day, but a lot of time in the car. I'm too tired to write much tonight, but I will put down my expenses.
Expenses thus far: $1395.13
Oct. 29: $2 ($1 each for the kids to get into a Halloween party sponsored by my son's pre-school - what a waste of money. We left after ten minutes).
$20 on gifts - $10 each to my cousin's kids who had a joint birthday party last night.
Oct. 30: $56.30 on gas (my minivan)
$1.09 on milk at a convenience store for ds2 in the car
$20 for bowling (Sunday night league - $10 each)
$15 for the babysitter ($5 X 3 hours)
$5 gift to someone in the bowling league who is having brain surgery
Total: $1514.52
It's amazing how fast this adds up...I think for November I will track all of our income and expenses, so it will be easier to see if we are gaining any ground.

October 28

October 29th, 2005 at 06:53 am

A good day yesterday money-wise...no money spent. I guess it doesn't hurt when I work from 8:30am until 6:30pm! That does not leave me a lot of time to spend any money. After work, we went to my aunt's house to play pitch. We belong to two pitch leagues and one pinochle club. In my opinion, that is some of the best free entertainment around (actually, the pinochle club costs $18 per year, but that's a small price to pay for one evening out a month). We have a pinochle match tonight, but since our babysitter (my mom) cancelled and we can't find another, we'll have to find a sub. I could play cards or board games every night of the week and never get tired of them. It's amazing just how long a deck of cards can entertain you. For anyone who is looking for cheap entertainment, go to the library and check out a book on card games.
I have to add $5 to my total as my dear husband had to eat out at class the other night. So my total money spend since I started keeping track: $90.13 + $5 = $95.13. I guess if I really want to keep an accurate count, I should add in the money I spent in paying off the credit cards. Without getting all the papers out again, I am going to estimate that I spent $1300 on paying off my balances this month. So I guess I am up to $1395.13.

Oct 27

October 27th, 2005 at 05:10 pm

Yeah! Realizing that I had to account to my journal tonight, I finally sat down and made that credit card payment. It hurt a little (just over $1000), but I have no one to blame but myself (and DH, I guess). I misplaced my debit card which I use for everything (I know it's around here somewhere...), which has led me to use my credit cards more often since I hate writing checks. And since it was 0% interest, it was so easy to justify it. I don't think I spent any more than I would have otherwise since most of my purchases were gas and groceries, but it would have been nice to be paying it as I went instead of one big lump sum. At least I wrapped it up before they started to charge any interest. For good measure, I paid up my other two credit cards too. I am going to cancel one so that I only have two credit cards left, but I am going to wait a few weeks since I just canceled a different one. I just read last night that it is not a good idea to cancel two cards in one month because it looks like you are having money trouble.

Goal #1: Accomplished. Now on to the car payment...have to wait for my next commission check to come in before I tackle that one.

Expenditures today:
Gas $33.83 - I'm glad it was DH's car that needed gas because my minivan takes over $60 to fill
Groceries $56.30 - Sounds to be a lot since I went twice last week already, but I found a bunch of cans of my son's formula, which is hard to find now. I bought enough to last until he turns a year old and can switch to milk.
I did buy some whole wheat pasta for the Phase 2 of the diet, when I can reintroduce carbs. It was $1.50 for a box that I can normally find 2/$1! And I paid over $3 for a box of whole grain cereal, which I rarely do. But I am seeing the benefits. I wore a pair of pants to work today that I have not worn since before becoming pregnant with my second son. Yeah! I have lost about 3.5 pounds since I started weighing myself last week.

Total: $90.13

Oct 26

October 26th, 2005 at 06:50 pm

My first "real" entry:
Expenditures today: none
I spent the day at work and brought my lunch. I started the South Beach diet a week and a half ago. I have found it to both save and cost money to be on this diet. It saves me money as I have to plan my menu out carefully and can no longer run to the fast-food restaurants if I did not have time to make lunch. I have been making my lunches at night to avoid running out of time in the am. So I have cut out app. $3-4 that I would usually spend out at lunch once a week. However, a lot of the foods on the diet are expensive. Nuts, olive oil, fresh veggies... this stuff is a lot more expensive than the junk I was eating! Smile But the results are already showing and I feel a lot better about my eating habits. However, once I start eating the whole grains again next week, I know I will feel it in my pocketbook again - whole wheat breads are SO much more expensive.
I meant to go shopping after work, but I was stuck at work too long and had to get home so DH could get to class. Tomorrow I will need to pick up some lettuce (again, the healthier stuff is more expensive than the iceberg) and some type of meat for dinner. I ended up making vegetarian chili for dinner tonight with stuff from the freezer and cupboard. It came out pretty well though. So I guess I escaped today without having to spend any money, but I already now I will have to spend some tomorrow.
I guess I can console myself by knowing that this better eating will pay off in the long run with less medical bills. My goal is to get DH off of his cholesterol meds ($15 month copay) - not just for the cost, but I worry about him being on it for a long time since it is a relatively new drug and not tested long-term yet. He's only 28! I'll check back in a day or two with a log of my expenses...

Intro

October 26th, 2005 at 06:41 pm

I don't know how often I will be able to do this, but I know being forced to account for the money we spend will be helpful. Right now I am in a very fortunate position of sharing my parents' home with my DH and kids (ds1, age 2, and ds2, age 10 months). We moved here about two years ago after we sold our home, but had not yet found a new one. It was supposed to be temporary...but we liked it here and my parents loved having us around. It was nice to share the household tasks, the expenses, and the fun. DH and I have a great relationship with my parents and made them promise to tell us when it was time for us to move on. So far, in every conversation, we are welcome to stay. So for us, housing and utility costs are minimal. We pay a portion of the phone, electric, dish tv, groceries, and Netflix every month. Since my parents own the house, there is no mortgage. This is what enables to raise two kids on the income we have, which is not much right now.
DH lost his job in July very unexpectedly and decided to go back to school for his teacher certification. Luckily, he was accepted into a program that will continue to pay unemployment benefits for part of the time he is going to school. So we have about $300 coming in weekly for at least a few more months. I work a half-time job, which gives us our health benefits, plus I have been able to pick up some extra time over the past few months. So that brings in another $550 - 800(net) every two weeks, depending on how much I work. I also sell real estate, mostly part-time to friends, relatives, and referrals. It's a nice source of extra income (app. $5-10k per year).
We are doing okay now, although we do have some goals we would like to meet. We have a 0% interest credit card that we used for everything over the last few months. However, the 0% rate ends in November, so our first order of business is to pay that off. I think we owe about $1200 on that. We can pay that out of savings, but then we'll have to work to replenish our savings.
Next, DH has a $8000 car loan from a new car he bought last January. Our next goal is to pay that off. I will have two substantial real estate commission checks coming in over the next month that we will use to cut that in half. Then we'll work at chipping away the rest.
Lastly, we have student loans. And more student loans. We had our original $35000 ($17,500 each) cut down to about $18000 ($11000 on mine and $7000 on DHs), but we had to take out new loans for DH - about $4000 a semester times 4 semesters...oh boy. So we are going to chip away at mine after the car is paid off since his are in deferment.
We do have about 6 months of expenses in a savings account, but I am fanatical about not touching that. I know to some degree it does not make a lot of sense, since we are earning so little on it (making less interest than we are paying on our loans), but I feel I need to keep my security blanket. I do not plan to save for my kids' college, since DH and I had no help from our parents and did quite well with financial aid (we will never be big earners), but we do set aside some money for the kids every Christmas and birthday. Maybe we should rethink how we save for them.
Anyway, that's my introduction. I hope to use this as a venue for personal accountability, although DH at times does not like to account to me his expenditures Smile We'll see how it goes. I have read others journals with great interest and hope to continue to glean many good ideas. Maybe I can help others as well.