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Archive for September, 2006

Bye bye baskets

September 30th, 2006 at 06:43 pm

I used to buy baskets - a lot. At garage sales, mostly. At one point DH told me he was going to throw away one basket for every one that I brought home because I had so many. Why did I need so many baskets? To hold my stuff. All kids of stuff - papers, cards, socks, stuffed animals, etc.
Since I started the decluttering process many months ago, I had a nice realization. If I didn't have so much stuff, I didn't need so many baskets, buckets, drawers, storage containers, etc. At one point I had six baskets of various sizes stacked up in the hallway after a good day of cleaning, wondering what I was going to do with them. It felt great! So, a challenge for everyone - attack one basket, drawer, bucket, whatever and get rid of it!

More freebies to list: my mom worked at the farmer's market today for my cousin, who owns a greenhouse. One customer left a bunch of radishes on their table and never came back for them. At the end of the day, my mom brought them home rather than throw them out. Not a huge savings, as I don't even like radishes, but DH will eat them.
Retail value: $1
Value to me: $.25

Total freebies: $258.72 (retail value: $963.47)

October goals

September 30th, 2006 at 06:03 am

Oops...posted my September budget results, but completely forgot to write out my October budget. Here goes...

Goals for October:
Groceries: 250
Household/Cell: 90
Car: 325 (DH's first student teaching assignment ends this month and his second assignment is only 45 minutes away, so we should be able to cut back here)
Medical: 75 (one dentist appt, one MD appt. for ds2)
Clothes: 0
Loans: 300.36
Entertainment: 175 (140 total bowling expenses, with babysitter costs)
Gifts: 75 (three birthdays)
Miscellaneous: 50
Real estate: 0
School/Day care: 120
Investment: 0
Cash withdrawals: 40 with no fees (not counting money taken out for envelopes)
Total income: 1149.00
Total expenses: 1500.36
Wow...have to trim somewhere this month. Thank goodness we only have three more months of this before DH can start working again. I also have to find the money to pay off the cc balance - $367. Looks like another month of dipping into savings.
Hmmm...just had a thought of how to bring my income and expenses more in line this month. I called to check on my next car loan payment - even though I asked them to apply all extra payments toward principal, somehow my next payment has been advanced a month (not due until 11/2). I can skip it for this month - not the most desirable option, but I am only paying $4 a month in interest, so it wouldn't set me too far back. Hmmm...any thoughts?

Debt update

September 29th, 2006 at 07:01 pm

1. Pay off Discover $628 balance -> down to a $367 balance, which will be paid off this month
2. Pay off American Express $4530 balance (0% interest until 8/07) -> up to $4552
3. Pay off car loan, $1085 balance, 3.75% interest (this was a higher priority until I realized that I am only paying less than $4 per month in interest!) - at $200 per month this will be paid off relatively soon anyway
4. Pay off my student loans $6200 balance (about 4.6% interest) -> down to 6122
5. Pay off Dh's student loans $15145 balance (in deferment)

Overall, a $357 reduction in debt. It's a start...

September goals

September 29th, 2006 at 06:49 pm

Yeah, I'm jumping the gun a little on this one since the month isn't even over yet...but I've been anxious to see how we fared this month.

Goals for September:
Groceries: 275 -> 192.90 - I actually came in under budget! A big cheer for the envelope system and my new-found discount grocery stores Smile
Household/Cell: 90 -> 207.76 (one check I wrote in August for household expenses didn't go through until Sept - reason for the discrepancy)
Car: 400 -> actual expenditures were 675.14 with car inspection/repairs, but gas expenditures were 365.32, a little less than I expected
Medical: 200 -> 243.21 (two additional scripts to fill, although I did cut some of my dentist bill by requesting x-rays every two years instead of annually - I read they are only needed that much anyway)
Clothes: 0 -> 35.60 (DH needed some for student teaching)
Loans: 300.36 -> 300.36
Entertainment: 165 -> 145.13
Gifts: 75 -> 110.51
Miscellaneous: 100 -> 123.19
Real estate: 0 -> 0
School/Day care: 40 -> 40
Investment: 0 -> 0
Cash withdrawals: 100 with no fees -> 180 with 3.75 in fees...grrr.
Total expenses: 1745.36 -> 2257.55
Total income: 1579.50 -> 1860.92 (counting commission check)
I think I had projected a $200 shortfall this month...ended up being $396. I'm still trying to figure this one out as I only took $180 out of savings...must be some outstanding cc charges that account for the extra $$ spent.
I also put $4500 on the 0% cc - Dh's tuition. Not looking forward to paying that one off, but at least I won't be paying interest on it for a year.
I'm feeling pretty good about September. Yes, we spent more than we made. But the only two categories where we were significantly over were car and medical - necessary expenses. We reined in the spending in other categories. So I feel pretty darn good, even in the red.

free free free!

September 29th, 2006 at 06:03 pm

I keep remembering things to add to my freebie tracking list...all of this stuff was received in the past month.
-two free movie tickets from a contest, value $15.00
-$10 gift card to Target from mypoints, value $10
-today I bought three packages of Kotex, which cost me $7, but which I will receive a $10 rebate for, product valued at $10.47
Total value: 285.47 (total retail value: 962.47

More freebies

September 28th, 2006 at 06:14 pm

Forgot to add that I received several partial bags of cat food from a relative after their cat passed away. It was nice of them to think of me even when they were feeling bad.
Estimated value: $15 (pricey food)
My value: $4 (I buy the cheap stuff!)

That brings the value of things I have gotten for free to $250 (estimated value of $927 if bought new).

New category

September 27th, 2006 at 06:39 pm

I was just thinking over all of the things I have gotten for free lately (hand-me-downs, freebies, Freecycle, etc.) and wanted to start tracking it. I'm not sure how to quantify it, since a lot of these things I would not have bought for myself, so it's not really money saved. However, they are items of value that I now own. Maybe I'll give a conservative estimate on how much the item would have cost new, followed by what the item would have cost me if I had bought it (presumably used).
I'll start by backtracking over the last month.
-1 large garbage bag of boys clothing, sizes 4-7, from friend
estimated new value: conservatively, $500 - tons of brand name Disney, Gap, etc. clothes
my value: $150 used
-1 bag pears, value $3, from co-worker
-1 pair of children's shoes, worn once, from a co-worker
new value: $40
my value: $2
-a box of used children's games, from a Freecycle in return for items I gave to her
new value: $30
my value: $6
-a bag of silk ties for DH to wear while teaching, from DH's cousin who is a teacher but doesn't wear them anymore
new value: $100
my value: $20
-clothes from DH's cousin, about 5 shirts, 3 pants (needed shortening which was done by my MIL), one pair of shoes
new value: all brand name, probably $200
my value: $50
-clothes for DH from my brother, several shirts
new value: $50
my value: $15

That's all I can remember for now. For me, it's simply a matter of letting people know you are interested. One co-worker, who brought me the children's shoes yesterday, had never brought me anything before (despite thinking about it) as she thought I might be offended. Now that she saw how happy I was to accept them, she said she will keep me in mind for the future. I am willing to bet I will receive clothes from her in the next 6 months.
So, an estimate of what the above would have cost me, new: $923
What would I have spent to get the above? $246. That's money in my pocket, just for saying yes!

Money tally

September 27th, 2006 at 06:27 pm

Big spend day, but nothing that was unbudgeted.
$177 for two dentists appts (myself and ds1). This was his first visit and he was SO good for the dentist. She even commented on how polite he was. Course, he wore his Buzz Lightyear shirt and insisted that everyone call him Buzz, which they did.
$19 spent at store #1. I found a few good deals - some things that were free after I combined coupons with sales. I think I saved about $14, so I'm getting closer to that 50% mark. I did buy a few things that I needed which weren't on sale and no coupon, so that brought down my savings. Stop #2 was Aldi's, so no coupons there - but I had to stock up on some canned goods, like beans, which I can never find coupons for anyway. Spent $21 there. My grocery envelope has $2 left in it - I think I can make it until the end of the month!
The rest of the day I spent at home, cooking (jalapeno jelly, yogurt, soup with tomatoes and ravioli). I did make $91 payment on the big cc (0% rate), so I guess that counts as money spent too.

This one's for Bookie :)

September 27th, 2006 at 06:17 pm

Vanilla-Scented Granola, posted by bev on recipezaar.com, recipe #23108

cooking spray
4 c. old fashioned oats (I used quick cooking)
1 c. sliced almonds
1/2 c. golden brown sugar, packed (I used 1/4 c. brown sugar with 1/8 c. Splenda brown sugar)
1/4 t. salt
1/8 t. ground cinnamon
1/3 c. oil (I used 1/4 c.)
1/4 c. honey
2 T. sugar
4 t. vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 300. Lightly spray baking sheet with cooking spray (I had to use two baking sheets). Mix next 5 ingredients in large bowl.
Combine oil, honey, and sugar in sall saucepan and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla. Pour over oat mixture - stir well. Use hands to toss until thoroughly mixed. Spread on baking sheet and bake until golden brown, 20-30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Cool completely and store in airtight container at room temperature for up to two weeks. Makes about 8 cups.
(I split this into two batches - for mine, I added coconut before baking. For my mom's, I added raisins after baking).

cooking frenzy

September 26th, 2006 at 06:36 pm

This happens every time I get a day or two off from work - I go into a cooking frenzy. I have noticed that it has been much more acute (and adventurous) lately. Today the result was homemade granola (I challenge anyone who likes granola to try this - so easy and very delicious, not to mention way cheaper!). DH and I also made pickled peppers. The plan tomorrow is to make pepper jelly. We still have jalapeno peppers coming out our ears, despite giving so many away on Freecycle. I'll take some into work on Thursday - maybe that will help clear out the glut.
My next goal - yogurt. I want to try the recipe from the Tightwad Gazette. I was all set to try it the other day, but the yogurt I had on hand didn't say "live cultures", so I wasn't sure if it would work. Have to make a trip to the store to get some more yogurt before I can set off on that adventure.
I spent $17 today on a book/gift sale at work. I found a nice present for my DH, but it was $16 with the Books Are Fun people, who came last week, so I passed. The EXACT same item popped up again this week (different book group) for $9. I was thrilled, so I bought that along with a little gift for myself - a greeting card organizer/calendar/address book (it has space to hold cards for each month, as well as write down all important dates). Not normally something I would spend $8 on, but it comes with 24 beautiful orchid greeting cards - that's only $.33 per card, not counting the book! Even though I have all but given up on exchanging cards, there are occasions where I still need to have a nice card on hand, which I usually end up paying $.50 for at the dollar store. These cards are so much nicer, and I get the book to boot! No other money spent today.
One of my co-workers wives set up a table at work today to sell her jewelry - very pretty and reasonably priced, but just not something I spend money on. I wear very little jewelry - just my wedding set and one other ring with an occasional pair of earrings. Anyway, everyone kept telling me how I needed to go look, it was so reasonable, yada yada yada. I looked, and I passed. Yet I noticed many other people (some whom I have heard say they can't wait for the next payday as they have NO money) shell out $30, $40, $50 without blinking an eye. When I think how long I have to work for one bracelet...no thanks.
Slight headache all day - never bad enough to take anything for it (stupid me), but just enough to be annoying. I think I'll go to bed now...

September resolutions?

September 24th, 2006 at 07:25 pm

Just to keep myself on track and accountable...a few things I need to step up on as things have not been quite to my standards lately.
1. I resolve to not go more than 5 miles per hour over the speed limit. This is better for gas mileage and for reducing the chance of getting a speeding ticket. I will ask DH to pledge the same.
2. I resolve to have more patience with my children. I have been finding myself raising my voice more often than I would like. Patience, patience.
3. I resolve to continue in my effort to declutter and simplify life.

Tomorrow is a new day. Tomorrow will be a better day!

been away for a bit

September 24th, 2006 at 07:22 pm

We went to Binghamton for the weekend for nephew's 17th birthday party (he was FIVE when I met DH...I feel so OLD). A nice visit, as usual. I am so lucky to have found a partner with a family that I adore.
Bad news on the spending front - the entertainment envelope was empty tonight as we were looking for bowling money. We had a few events come up that we didn't plan for - a fall festival, the potato festival (we come up with a lot of reasons for festivals here in Small Town USA). Plus I forgot to budget for DH's Wed. bowling league. I'll try to plan better next month. We took $20 from the grocery envelope instead, so at least we didn't have to hit the dreaded ATM. The worst news though - another speeding ticket for DH. UGH. As upset as I was, it would be hypocritical of me to get mad at him as I speed as much, if not more, than he does. He just spends a lot more time on the road, so his chances of being caught are higher. I really hope it does not affect our insurance rates though. His court date isn't until October, so we are going to try to plead for leniency before then. He has already taken the defensive driving course, so that won't be a help for at least another year.
The good news though...two checks to deposit tomorrow. $546 commission check from my last transaction and $108 from my friend for our theatre tickets for next year (cc is already paid, so I can use this money toward other expenses). I think I will pay off two small cc bills ($50 total) and then make some payments on the big cc - the one we used for DH's tuition. It's a start, however small!

To Infinity...and Beyond!

September 21st, 2006 at 06:41 pm

Couldn't resist showing off these pictures of my little Buzz Lightyear. The wings were his DH's invention. The shirt - well, he hasn't taken it off since he got it (in a hand-me-down bag of clothes) except when I insist on washing it. When he puts it in, he proclaims himself the "real" Buzz Lightyear and "flies" around the house saying "To infinity and beyond!" (Buzz's catch phrase, for those of you who are not forced to watch Toy Story over and over again).

And now to smack myself in the head...I had a lead on a real estate client that I called a few times, but never got in touch with. I left her a message before I went on vacation in August and never heard from her. I have been forgetting and forgetting to try again to reach her. Anyway, I looked online before calling her tonight to make sure she hadn't listed her house yet - and she had - for $119k. And it sold within a week. Ouch. She listed it during the week I was on vacation. Oh well. I guess I should have been more persistent in trying to reach her. Although, her name was given to me by another client - maybe she already had an agent and didn't tell him. I never connected her to find out, so I guess I'll never know if I could have gotten the listing or not. The agent she did list with does a lot of sales and has a good reputation, so I might not have been able to get the listing anyway (I'm small potatoes Smile)
I spent some money ($3) to meet a girlfriend for lunch today - the first time I have eaten out in a few weeks. I deliberately went somewhere cheap - and she understood! I also stopped at Walgreens today to pick up a few good sales - Royal jello, 5/$1, Walgreen brand acetaminphen, BOGO, and coffee for DH. Spent $8, "saved" $9 - but actually didn't spend a thing as I used my rebate gift card. I wanted to go back to get the Kotex rebate again, but I forgot my coupons (Doh! double head smack!) and I certainly wasn't going to buy them without coupons! (flash - are you getting to me?)

sneaking in the TVP...

September 20th, 2006 at 07:13 pm

that is, texturized vegetable protein, for anyone who has not yet read The Tightwad Gazette (and if you haven't, why not??). It's a soy product used to supplement, or replace, meat - useful in dishes like chili, tacos, where you flavor the meat quite a bit anyway. Anyway, I used this tonight to mix with ground beef for chili. I will admit, there was no noble calling to this other than the fact that I had a very limited quantity of beef and I wanted to make two pots of chili. I used roughly one part reconstituted TVP per three parts beef - wanted to start out small to see if anyone noticed. Without saying anything, I served up dinner as usual. A few minutes in, DH asked me if I used turkey in the chili - I thought he picked up on the slight color difference, but he said the texture was different (although the taste was not - yoohoo!) I will call this experiment a success (no one else at the table noticed the difference - and I didn't tell them!). Next time, Ill try adding a little more.
I did get two pots of chili - one hot, on mild - for lunches and the freezer. I already packed DH's and my lunches for tomorrow and put the remainder of one pot in the freezer. I also made cornbread - not a good recipe (used cheese and creamed corn). I will definitely go back to plain old tried and true cornbread next time.
My culinary disappointment of the day: I wanted to try The Tightwad Gazette's recipe for homemade yogurt (can you tell I am in the midst of rereading the Gazette?), but the yogurt I had on hand did not specify if it contained live cultures, so I decided to wait until I went to the store again. I'll have to post on that later -

free food!

September 19th, 2006 at 06:40 pm

I love free food! I got a bag of pears from a coworker today. That totally made my day, especially since I have been buying pears like crazy (the kids love them). I made some really good pear muffins this afternoon. I would love to try making some pear sauce (like applesauce) too, but I need more pears already!
Not much else to report today - spent a nice afternoon in the kitchen. I am becoming such a homebody. Smile

I am so BAD an envelopes...

September 18th, 2006 at 07:38 pm

I started with good intentions - the best intentions, really. I knew that I was going to a grocery discount store, so I took $40 out of my wallet (did I forget to mention that the cash for my envelopes is still sitting in my wallet instead of the envelopes??? Does it matter that I know in my head what money goes toward what expense???). I spent $31 and change for groceries, pocketing the rest with the intention (there I go with my intentions again) of putting it into a envelope for groceries. Well, then we went to the Fall Festival and I reasoned that I could use that leftover money since I wouldn't be needing it for groceries (still have enough in the budget for the month). So that money got intermingled with the entertainment money (which came out of DH's pocket money, NOT the money I set aside for my entertainment envelope, which is still - of course - in my wallet). Ugh. Then to make it all worse, I spent $1.59 out of the $20 bill that I found in my pocket today (and I don't even remember where this money came from!) instead of putting it on the debit card, which was my intention for all non grocery/non entertainment expenses. So now I have no clue.
This is such an EASY concept...why is it so HARD?
(The worst part is that I have been carrying $180 in my wallet for five days now - not a good idea!)

Jordan Fall Festival

September 16th, 2006 at 07:19 pm

I love small town life. If anyone is in central NY in mid-September, c'mon over to the Jordan Fall Festival. It was a lot of fun. Not very big - maybe 10 or 15 rides, a big food tent with about 10 different booths, some games, and two large craft tents. But it was a reasonably priced night out, not too crowded, and my boys had fun.
I did spend a little more than I wanted to, but I also had $10 left from my grocery trip today that I put towards my entertainment budget, plus DH kicked in the exra money he had from going to the ATM this week.
Spent: $11.50 for food for four (I brought our drinks so we wouldn't have to buy them)
$6 on used books (12 children's books at $.50 each)
$6.60 on ride tickets (my parents also bought a few extras for the kids)
$5 on a dozen of the best doughnuts I have ever had, made fresh at the festical - we always get these first as they tend to sell out every year

A delightful evening!

I also went grocery shopping with my mom today. We stopped at two Mennonite stores close to home. One is less than 10 minutes away, yet I never think to go there. It was SO cheap. They sell a lot of near-expiration or past-expiration date products. Some examples:
16 oz carton of sour cream, $.59 (a few days before expiration - but I have found it to stay good for a week or two past opening, even if it's past the date)
package of sausage breakfast links, $1.29
large bag of apples, $3.25
6 slightly bruised pears, $.95
8 oz. shredded cheese, $1.39
a huge bag of unsweetened chocolate squares for baking - 36 squares for $1.81 (my best find!)
I spent $31 at this store, and then my mom spent $33 at the next store - a similar store but with more of an emphasis on bulk goods. There I got some cornmeal, nuts, chocolate-covered coffee beans (my splurge), some seconds peaches, more pears, etc. Both my mom and I bought stuff, but it evened out in the end as we each spent about the same. I got some TVP and am going to try to use it in cooking to stretch the meat budget. I used it once in the past and it wasn't noticed...let's see if I can do it again. It will be healthier too.

Now to get one of those doughnuts...


September 15th, 2006 at 06:54 pm

I made two posts on Freecycle today - one for jalapeno peppers (picked about 6 dozen from the garden today - about 5 dozen more than we could realistically use - and I only picked about half of them) and another for a ton of miscellaneous clothes and other items. Everything has been spoken for except some woman's clothes. I feel lighter already.
The two people who took the peppers - one dropped off a bunch of board games when she found out I had kids and the other offered me to stop by her shop and pick out a little something. I guess what goes around comes around Smile

BTW, any ideas for jalapeno peppers? I make stuffed peppers and salsa out of them, but you can only do that so many times...

Change in perception

September 15th, 2006 at 10:18 am

This might be a somewhat long story, but I'll get to the point eventually...
I was getting dressed this morning when I noticed my jeans were a little snug. Nothing terrible, I think I gained two pounds over the Month of Eat Whatever I Want (also known as August). That puts my weight at 142, which I immediately think is too high (for me). Nevermind that I spent the majority of the last three years going from 150 to 199 to 155 to 195 to 160 (two babies). I finally got my weight in check last fall and got down to 140, where I have been since. Prior to that, 150 had been my "comfortable" weight. Now, I feel uncomfortable at 142. My point is...priorities change in health, as they do in finances. When I first started saving, my comfort level was a $500 EF. Then it was $2000. Now I am uncomfortable when I have less than $10k socked away. So, is this a good thing or bad?
I think it's good - to a degree, as with everything else. It is healthier for me to weight 140 than 150 and it is better for me to have $10k than $500. But, if I take it to an extreme and start to lose weight drastically, or forgo my family's needs or a little fun just to get $30k in my EF (which I don't realistically need), then I have gone too far. I like the balance that I have right now. It's comfortable. It might change in a few years when DH is working again (we might want to increase our EF with his salary. Or my weight might increase with baby #3) - but right now, it's a good place to be. If I could just lose those two pounds Smile

some changes

September 14th, 2006 at 07:39 pm

Ok, I need to stay focused here on the goals. So here is my list, which I plan to post somewhere I can look at them everyday (listed in order of priority):
1. Pay off Discover $628 balance
2. Pay off American Express $4530 balance (0% interest until 8/07)
3. Pay off car loan, app. $1000 balance, 3.75% interest (this was a higher priority until I realized that I am only paying less than $4 per month in interest!) - at $200 per month this will be paid off relatively soon anyway
4. Pay off my student loans $6200 balance (about 4.6% interest)
5. Pay off Dh's student loans $15145 balance

After I get #1, #2, and #3 done, I will start to contribute to our Roth IRAs again. We took this year off as DH was not working. I think we managed $2000 at the beginning of the year, but there is no way that we can do that now. It is going to feel SO nice to start checking these off, one by one. I will update my progress here, although the only thing that will get paid off anytime soon will be the Discover (before 10/1 or else we'll be paying interest).
More to report: started my first envelopes today. I have $100 in a grocery envelope for now until the end of the month. Should be easy to stay within that range and eat out of the freezer more. I also put $80 in our entertainment envelope to cover bowling and babysitting expenses for the rest of the month, plus $10 leftover for anything extra we decide to do. These are the only cash expenses I have - all other expenses (gas, student loan, car loan, medical, etc.) are non-negotiable and paid for with a check or debit card, so I really don't see a need, or way, to include them in the envelope plan.
Dh seems to be on board here - he has been making a pot of coffee to take to his teaching position in a huge, huge mug I found for him at a garage sale. He is also packing his lunch each day. What a guy, what a guy. I love my guy Smile Ooh, he just told me too that he brought a 12-pack of soda in to school to (from extra we had at home) so he doesn't have to buy any while at school. Now if I could just get him to give it up altogether Wink baby steps, baby steps!
And now I just asked him if he had any cash - he has $25 left from $40 he took out four days ago. When I asked him where it went, he said coffee...snacks...soda...ARGH! One step forward, two steps back. I just told him the no spend plan for the next two weeks and after rolling his eyes at me, he grudgingly agreed. I think he knows we need to do this...but knowing and doing are two different things.

how being stupid costs you money

September 14th, 2006 at 07:19 pm

...and time. I listed a new house yesterday but forgot my lockbox key (needed to put the lockbox on the house). Duh. I was about 5 miles (in the wrong direction) from our branch office, so I thought I would run there to see if anyone had a key I could borrow. After a fifteen minute drive in city traffic, I get there to find not one other agent is there - only the secretary, who gives me a key to use - but the owner had not paid his bill and the electronic key was shut off that day. But, she said, I could find a different agent at an open house just a mile away from the house I listed. So I got back in the car, drove right back to where I had just come from and tracked doen the other agent - he opened the lockbox for me and I trekked back to the house for sale to put the lockbox on. All in all - about an hour of wasted time, probably $5 in gas - and I got to my other job an hour later, which meant I had to stay there an hour later, which meant less time with my kids yesterday night. Grrrr...I hate being stupid.
But we did have some interest on the house already. Plus I have a closing coming up next week - just a little land deal, but it will earn me about $500, which will go towards DH's tuition.
Speaking of tuition, the charge did come through on our new cc. It's really depressing to see your net worth decrease by $4500 in one day (and we still have $1000 balance with the college to pay by 10/11). Definitely dipping into the savings for that one.

such nice words!

September 12th, 2006 at 06:52 pm

I guess I thought no one was reading my little blog much anymore...and then I get such nice, well-wishing replies! It was very heartwarming to get those responses. We will make it, even if it means reducing the old EF a bit. I am fortunate for the foresight to set one up so that it is there when we need it.
luxliving, good points about having a job actually lined up for DH when he is doen student teaching. I am excited that he will be ABLE to work again without the demands of school or student teaching - but no, there is nothing definite lined up. He has been in touch with three schools about substitute teaching and is all set to go for one school. We still need to find out if there are any requirements for the other two. He is supposed to contact them both when he is done student teaching, but it would be a good idea to look into this beforehand. DH got his child abuse clearance for the one school, but if it is required for other schools, we need to start on that now (it took several months).
We have a few good leads on possible jobs. My new SIL (as of last month) teaches in our town, so we have made a lot of contacts there. In fact, one teacher is going out on maternity leave in February, and another is retiring in June (and says she is saving her spot for DH!). In another school, we know the lady who calls the subs, so DH hopes to get called there a lot for substitute teaching. We are optimistic.
But, even if he can't get a job teaching right away, at least he will be able to do something. Any job at all would work - just to bring in some money. I'm not concerned at all that he won't find work - he might not find a teaching position right away, but he will find work Smile
I'm gearing up for a no-spend week or two. I cleaned out all the cupboards and freezer today to get a good idea of what's on hand. I think I mentioned before, I could go a while without shopping. However, my mom can't. And what I don't buy, she will. I don't want to shift my expenses on to her, so I still feel obligated to buy some groceries and household items. I think I will start the No Spend Challenge #2 on Thursday after I get paid. I'll post more about the ground rules when I figure them out Smile

desperate times...

September 11th, 2006 at 07:17 pm

well, they are not that desperate! Just did the budget for September this morning and realized we have a MINIMUM $200 shortfall. oh well. It's not completely unexpected. DH has not been working for 14 months now. We've made it so far on my PT job - we can make it three more months until he is done student teaching. Then that boy is getting a JOB!
We do have to tighten up our already-tight belts. I think I will have a no-spend two weeks coming up soon. I have a cc bill to pay off by 10/1 ($300) in addition to all the regular bills. I also think I will set aside some money for envelopes after I get paid this Thursday. It really helped on my last shopping trip to have a set amount. Once I have the money in the envelopes, I am going to take the cc and debit card out of my wallet. if I need money, I'll have to take it from the appropriate envelope before I leave the house. The only exception will be gas, which DH will need to have access to a debit card for as he will be on the road so much. Wish me luck!

August budget

September 11th, 2006 at 07:51 am

Finally getting around to a recap:

Goals for August:
Groceries: 275 -> 364.14 (due to camping supplies)
Household/Cell: 340 -> 89.76
Car: 250 -> 208.50 YEAH!
Medical: 15 -> 15
Clothes: 20 -> 0
Loans: 300.36 -> 100.36 (200 car payment came through in Sept.)
Entertainment: 100 -> 235.42 (I can blame this on my purchase of next year's theater membership - $128 paid early to save money)
Gifts: 125 -> 140
Miscellaneous: 200 -> 386.97 (thanks to DHs $155 speeding ticket!)
Real estate: 0 -> 90.62 (lockbox key semi-annual fee)
School: 0 -> 0
Investment: 0 -> 0
Cash withdrawals: 100 with no fees -> this was horrible: $460 with $6.50 in fees (all of which I can blame solely on DH)
Total expenses: 2097.27
Total income: (three paycheck month!!) 1920 -> 1940.85
I also received two commission checks for $3750.82, which was used to pay off DH's tuition (on cc). I had a little left over, which made up the shortfall for the month.

Next month is when things really start to get tight. We are paying the LAST tuition bill - over $5500, on a cc with 0% interest for a year. We will have to throw everything we can at this so that we won't have to deplete savings to pay it off next year. Also, I have to start paying $40/week for day care (2 kids, one full day) as DH is student teaching. My mom is watching the boys two days per week to help us out, but we had to cover the other day I work. I am thinking seriously of going to the envelope system since there will be so little money left over (I went to Aldi's yesterday forgetting that they do not take credit cards - and not knowing my debit card #. I scrounged up $13.44 between my wallet and car. It was amazing how many things I put back on the shelf when prioritizing! I left there with $.13 in my pocket and still have everything I needed. This is really what persuaded me to look at the envelope system again!).

Goals for September:
Groceries: 275
Household/Cell: 90 (cell) - my mom told me NOT to pay her for household expenses until DH was done teaching - they are so generous because they know how tight things are right now. I am so fortunate.
Car: 400 OUCH! Dh is commuting over an hour to his teaching site every day.
Medical: 200 (one copay, two prescriptions, and two dentist visits)
Clothes: 0
Loans: 300.36
Entertainment: 165 (35/week for bowling and babysitter plus a little extra)
Gifts: 75 (three birthdays)
Miscellaneous: 100
Real estate: 0
School/Day care: 40 - only need this one Monday for Sept - next month it will be 160
Investment: 0
Cash withdrawals: 100 with no fees
Total expenses: 1745.36
Total income: 1579.50
I am expecting a commission check of about $500. This will go toward the shortfall of $165.86, plus toward an existing cc balance.
It looks worse than it really is. If it were really this bad, I would obviously cut out the entertainment budget. But we bowl together as a family (my parents and siblings), plus DH really enjoys it. We are sitting on a comfortable emergency fund, which we may have to dip into for the next few months until DH can start working again. So we're okay. We have a place to live, food on the table, and medical care. It's all good Smile

"You're my favorite mommy"

September 9th, 2006 at 07:12 am

That's what my dear, dear son said to me this morning. Awww...I love the little things they come out with. Of course, I would like to know what other mommies he has that he was comparing me to!
Tough week around here - both boys and myself sick with colds. Now my niece next door has it too. It will probably hit my parents next, which means it will hop to us all one more time before we can get rid of it. Grrr. The boys are a little more tired (AKA "cranky") than usual, which means I am a lot more tired AND cranky, as they have been getting me up several times for the past few nights.
Tonight DH and I have our pinochle club picnic to look forward to. Great food, nice company, and a night of playing cards. Free to boot!
Some good money news: I won two free tickets to the local movie theater. Our newspaper gives away something every week. One week my mom noticed that there were no winners - people didn't even both entering, so we started. My mom, myself, and DH have all won $10 g.c to restaurants so far. And this week I won the tickets! So keep an eye out for local contests, especially if you live in a small town like we do.
Bad money news: DH sold a video game on half.com for $13, but when he went to ship it, he noticed it was cracked. I issued a refund right away, so I hope we don't get any bad feedback from this. Also, we just got his new cc, so that means we can put his tuition on it. Our net worth will go down by $5700. This is after a few months of seeing it steadily rise. It was at $9k this week, so it will be depressing to see it down so much, especially since it will be a long time before we get the tuition paid off (0% cc for one year). I guess the upside to this is that he will not have to pay any more tuition after he is done student teaching this fall!

better than cheap is FREE!

September 6th, 2006 at 02:02 pm

Wow, when it rains it pours. Both my brother and DH's nephew have asked him in the past week if he wants some of their dress clothes as they were cleaning out their closets. YES! We took everything. All together, about 10 nice dress shirts, 4 casual shirts, three pairs of pants, two ties, one pair of shoes, and even two new bars of soap! We'll probably keep most of it, but there are a few items that will likely be too big. This is very helpful, as DH started student teaching this week and needs to dress up every day.
I make it a habit to always accept free items. It is widely known that I will take anything. I typically get several garbage bags full of kids' clothes each year from friends with older boys. If I can't use it, I will pass it along to someone who can or donate it. I wish I had some female friends or relatives who were the same size as me!
I feel very productive today. I tackled our closet, which was long overdue for a cleaning. Even though I just culled my wardrobe a few months ago, I managed to pull out another huge pile of clothes to freecycle. It felt really NICE. Then I worked in the garden for a while, pulling up old plants and weeding. We are nearing the end of the season, but we still have plenty of beets, swiss chard, broccoli, and peppers. The beans are still coming too, which surprised me. I thought they were done a month ago. The tomatoes, cukes, and cabbage are done.
After that, I took my boys down to their "school" (a preschool center that also does day care) to visit and get used to the place. They will be going there one full day per week now that DH is teaching. My mom is watching them the other two days I work. My oldest son went there last year, but it will be a new experience for my youngest. I hope he adapts okay. From then we went to the library, and finally, home.
Now, to cook dinner...tonight I have to finish some laundry and tally up my spending for the month of August.

new credit card

September 4th, 2006 at 06:43 pm

I signed DH up for a new 0% (for a year) rewards. Granted, he was preapproved for the offer, but still...it is really scary how little information you need to provide.
1. occupation (student)
2. household income (I put $25k - my two PT jobs - but I could have just as easily put $50 or $100k - they don't verify it, nor do they apparently care that DH makes $0!)
There might have been one more question, but I can't recall. Hit enter, wait 2 minutes, and BAM you have a new credit card. WHAT?? That's it? No wonder there are so many people with so much debt. They make it so easy. I guess it's been a while since we have gotten a new credit card. Seems I used to have to give a lot more information.
"The times, they are a changin"

love that hubby

September 4th, 2006 at 06:23 pm

That DH of mine is always surprising me. He has taken a very frugal turn lately. The other day I handed him an empty Shredded Wheat box and jokingly told him to think of a use for the crumbs in the bottom. He took them and made a pie crust, then filled it with a half-empty can of peach pie filling from the fridge, and topped it with a crisp. It was good - not outstanding, but a good use of leftovers. He's been doing a lot of little things lately that he never used to. Makes me smile!
We went to the NY state fair yesterday. What a money pit. Actually, we didn't do too badly. All the money we spent was admission and food, but we really did eat a lot. Spiedies, fresh fried potato chips, a blooming onion, fried dough, fudge, ice cream, and beer (DH only). This was all split by five adults over the course of eight hours, so don't anyone think we can eat THAT much without being sick Smile We did save money by not getting drinks with meals (I actually found a $.75 soda machine - the only one in the fair - and stocked up for later) and skipping the wine booth. We toured the tents but really didn't see anything at all we wanted. My SIL wanted me to buy a scooter for the kids (they were cheaper if you bought two), but we just said no and walked on. I would have liked to get one, but I just thought about how much we really could use $50 more than the scooter. She ended up buying two herself - I really don't know why (they have one child) - but that means she will probably end up sharing with my kids too!
The downsides: we didn't buy advance sale tickets because we didn't know until that day that we were going. Cost: $8 for two tickets. I also spent $1 on a coupon booklet that we didn't use any coupons out of. Blah. Other than that, no regrets.
Today we had a Labor Day picnic - cold weather, but no rain. We had quite a crowd - about 20 people. A nice lunch, games (horseshoes, lawn darts - yes, we know they're illegal - we are careful!, "rodeo golf", and bocce ball), then inside for more games (pinochle, board games). A whole night of free entertainment and visiting with friends and relatives. Ahhh....only money spent was for groceries, which my mom was chipping in for.
Speaking of mom...she has told me not to pay her any money for the next few months while DH is student teaching (I pay her some money every month for electric, phone, Netflix, Dish tv). She knows this is a hard time for us, as DH will basically be working full time, yet not getting paid. Add to that a 80 minute commute every day...and our expenses are going to be high. I'm not sure how I feel about this though - guilty, I guess. We'll see how the finances look. I'll give what I can spare, but it is nice to know that we have a little breathing room.
Enough rambling...

new user name

September 1st, 2006 at 08:27 pm

I guess this shouldn't be confusing at all - just want to clarify that my user name and blog name did indeed change, for anyone who's used to seeing my name around. I dropped the initial from my name - just wanting to remain slightly more anonymous, kwim? I was looking for a more generic name altogether, but then I was feeling a little TOO anonymous. I like the familiarity of my first name. So, from now on, I will remain just Jodi.

I spent way too much time today sorting out my digital pics. Between the summer parties, a wedding shower, bachelorette party, family reunion, my son's birthday, and (of course) the wedding, I have literally hundreds of pics to doctor up, label, and get printed. I have all the fixing and labeling done (I love Winkflash because they print the file name on the back of the picture - because I am anal about having my pictures labeled, that means I don't have to do it by hand when I get them!). I spent tonight uploading them to Winkflash and will get my order out tomorrow. There are some other companies that are offering free shipping, and I have tried a few, but keep coming back to Winkflash. Shipping is only $.99 no matter how big my order is, so it's a small price to pay for their service and quality.
Tomorrow - need to do some tasks around the house. I might sneak out to a few garage sales too, as the season is winding down around here. Sigh.