Whew! Whirlwind of activity around here with my husband and son having been home! (They left though - boo hoo!)
We went to a baseball game and won a $50 gift certificate to a pizza place - which was awesome cause we got to be on the jumbotron holding up a huge check and then we got to go out to eat as a whole family for the cost of the tip! YaY!
Anyways, here is how we did this month:
Investments: up 5.77% to $14,491
Savings: up 1691.82% to $10,591
Checkings: down 29.91% to $1,257
Assets: down 4.61% to $62,900
Debt: down 2.19% to $47,686 (including mortgage)
Net Worth: up 24.89% to $41,554.
Hopefully next month our net worth will be more than our Debt! YaY!
Whew! Whirlwind of activity around here with my husband and son having been home! (They left though - boo hoo!)
This past Saturday, the hubs and I took the three kids down to a copper mining town where they got to go 1500 feet into the Earth and learn all about mining, explored the old town, and then headed on to Tombstone - where they got to see and learn all sorts of interesting things.
Spent the night in Tombstone and then headed back up home - but on the way, we stopped at the San Xavier Mission.
When I was 16, my grandparents took me out to Arizona on vacation and we stopped at this mission - so since it was right on the way (well, a few miles out of the way - but my husband was NOT going to argue with me about this!) we stopped so I could share the experience with the kids. I cried a bit (both of my grandparents are long gone) but it was awesome to share the experience of the mission AND the stories of my grandparents at the same time....
This trip was saved for - every Spring Break we take the kids on some type of historic/learning vacation. Last year was the Grand Canyon - its so much fun to see them take the so called knowledge from their school text books and correlate it with what is standing right in front of them....
But, although the trip was saved for - as with all trips, we might have gone a little over in the category of eating. We didn't realize HOW expensive it would be - so time to go back to the budget and rework it to cover the difference!
Yesterday, I stumbled upon some old gift cards... ones that I know I used at some point, but I was curious as to what, if any, balances were left on them. (You know how it is - $25 gift card, you only spend $21.89 - balance just sits around)
To my surprise, both cards still had balances. One had a balance of $4.06 and the other has a balance of $16.45.
The $4.06 GC is a VISA card, which I can use anywhere. We needed milk in the house, so I used it last night to get two gallons of milk from the grocery store - spending $3.88, leaving me .18 on the GC. I am sure I will find somewhere to use it - every penny counts!
The other GC, in the amount of $16.45, is a Walmart GC, so I can only use it at Walmart. Which is totally fine, because I have some coupons to use there for some sale products - and the GC amount should more than cover what I am going to be getting for my stockpile.
So, if you have some old gift cards laying around, take a minute to call the number on the back to see if there is a balance - you may be pleasantly surprised!
During this past weekend of looking through some monthly bills, I decided to log onto my electric company's website, where I found a wonderful tool that breaks down how much energy I am using per day - before the bill arrives!
This is going to be a wonderful thing for me to track daily (or weekly) to ensure that my energy consumption is in line with my budget!
YaY for looking at the website!
Late last December, I was standing in my closet, wondering how in the heck I had accumulated all of those clothes. I swear, they must have gotten married to each other and had babies - because there was just TOO MUCH.
After going through everything and donating what I knew I would never wear again (or ever - as some articles still had tags on them) - I decided to challenge myself to wear a different top EVERY day until I no longer had a different top to wear.
I did this by turning all the hangers backwards. Once something is washed and hung up - it goes back in right sided. That's how I can keep track of what I have and have not worn.
I started this process on January 1st, 2013. Here it is, March 8th, 2013 - and I still have "new" tops left to wear - not to mention skirts and dresses that I haven't yet touched because it wasn't warm enough.
Interestingly enough, I haven't bought ONE piece of clothing in the same time frame!
Sometimes, looking at what you really have and challenging yourself to actually use it is a great way to keep yourself from spending money! This journey is so awesome!
And no, I didn't switch to Geico!
Reviewing some of my expenses, I realized that I was paying for 24/7 tech support through my internet company. How many times have I used the tech support service? ZERO. How much have I paid for the service? More than I want to think about. However, by cancelling the service, I have added $197.88 back into my budget yearly. YaY!
The second service I cancelled was my Experian Credit Report service. I don't even remember why I signed up for it - but I have been a memeber for YEARS. When I called to cancel, the man on the other end of the phone was trying so hard to keep me as a customer - 50% off the service price for 24 months. But I stayed strong and said - NOPE! (Credit Karma gives me all the information I want for free - so why pay for the service?) By cancelling this service, I added another $215.40 a year back into my budget.
Now, monthly this numbers aren't going to inflate my extra cash by thousands - but it is the pennies that add up! I can take this money and use it to further snowball my debts and it gives me a bit more breathing room.
Now I am off to Directv to see about getting rid of this movie channel package which is costing me $47 a month! (To be honest, I love Game of Thrones and Homeland - and I haven't found a legal way to watch the shows on the internet - so if they give me a discount, I will probably just take it - still saving money - but I really love those shows and channels. *Sigh*)
Well - today I took the "plunge" and planted some veggies in a garden!
I planted onions, green beans, okra,green onions and bell peppers. I thought that was a good start - I would like to plant more - but I want to make sure my thumb is green enough before investing more into the endeavor.
I am excited to see when they start blooming so I can just pick some fresh veggies and use them in my kitchen! And, I guess I will be going "organic" - lol! Amazing!
Well, I made potato soup for the first time in my life tonight. And it was delicious. Why have I waited so long to try this?!
Well, I can't tell you why I have waited so long to try it - but I can tell you why I tried it today: the budget.
Paying closer attention to my budget has me trying to think outside of my normal box and getting me to try new things - all in the name of enjoying life while saving money.
The only snag I had while making the soup was the shredded cheese. I could have sworn I had shredded cheese in the fridge (from a previous purchase) but when I went to look for it - it wasn't there! Luckily, my mother in law had sent us blocks of cheese from Wisconsin not too long ago - so I had cheese on-hand to shred for the soup.
I am enjoying my more in depth journey into finding my financial freedom... it is starting to open up a whole new world of possibilities for me... which is awesome!
Soooo, I finally joined SwagBucks. I figured, why not? Whatever I get can certainly help during the holidays, and being creative (although, is doing what a lot of other people are doing really creative? ) will help me stretch my budget a bit further....
I see a few bloggers here use swag bucks... do you think it is worth your time?
I talked earlier about how my ex-husband was trying to get me to tell the state to clear out what he owed. Well, I didn't do that. YaY me!
It has been so long since I even received child support that I haven't even paid attention to it. So, last night, I finally found my login information to the state's child support website and realized that I have $223 sitting in my state account from past collections. (And when I say past, I mean like 2 years ago!)
Thankfully, I still have my child support card (They don't deposit it into your bank account or send you a check, they give you a mastercard where the money is deposited into. Which really gets my goat. If I want to take cash out, they charge me a fee. And I don't like big brother seeing every place I make a transaction. Its really none of their business!)
So - an extra $223! That will really help this week with getting gas in the car and groceries in the house, since I am not getting paid until the 8th but certain things were due on the first, so I am running a little low in the checking account.
Of course, I am not holding my breath to get any other deposits into that account - from what I understand, my ex-husband is paid with a place to live and food to eat - no cash. Any money he does receive is part of his disability from the VA, so I am not sure if they can capture it or not.
I get paid every two weeks - so it doesn't always fall on the 1st or 15th - or every 2nd Friday or anything like that - which I am sure many of you contend with as well.
Being as such, prioritizing when to pay bills is giving me a headache. Money comes in at so many different times that I am trying to ensure that I pay everything as soon as I have the money, before it is due. I am pretty sure that I have all my categories spread out during the month, but I am longing for the days when I just paid everything on the first and didn't have to pay monthly obligations each and every week.
So, with that in mind, I think I will aim to get back into the YNAB format of bill paying. It may take a few months to get there - but it really does make life so much easier! (For me, anyway!)
The past week has been crazy in the Luva household... mainly work kicking me in the butt! I haven't been able to post in about a week - but tonight I did find time to sit down and add up all the numbers for my end of month net worth calculations....
Total Net Worth: $32,668.90 (up by $5,927.95!)
Assets: $65,940 (Only including vehicle and house)
Debt: $49,270 (including the mortgage)
I am pleased with my progress for the month - but there is still room to do better. Back to the spreadsheet to figure out exactly how my money will work for me during the month of March!
The penny kills me every time I see it. Only because it shows how pennies add up!
I wish the Kroger card savings tracker showed what was really saved, though. This is going off of their sale prices with coupons, not original prices, so I would assume my savings are actually closer to the $300 range.
In anycase, it is nice to have Kroger track the savings for me throughout the year so I don't have to. Hehe!
Here's to more savings in the future! Cheers!
Before I met the man of my dreams (hubby) I was married to the nightmare of my life.
Ok, that is probably not overly fair to say - so instead I will say that I was very young (19) and thought I had found the man of my dreams (ex-husband). We had two children together, and they are the most amazing things that ever came out of that relationship.
My ex-husband is an alcoholic. One of the reasons for the divorce. We have been divorced for 10 years, and in those 10 years, he has basically ignored the fact that he had any financial or emotional responsibility to his children.
During this time, he had no bank account and got paid under the table. The only support we received was the 2 years he filed taxes and I received his tax return.
Around last August, he finally went to an in-patient treatment program and has gotten sober. He also filed for VA disability benefits and was awarded 20% disability. In order to receive his disability, however, he had to open a bank account.
So, after 2 years of not even speaking to this man, I get a message that he needs to speak to me. The conversation basically informed me that he had opened a savings account, went to rent a red box movie and the machine wouldn't take his debit card, so he called to see why. His savings account has been frozen and reads that he has an available negative balance of $76,000.
He would like for me to call the state and have him absolved of his debt.
Is he crazy? Or am I crazy for even contemplating it for a second?
I realize that it will take until the end of time for me to receive that money from him. However, he has a responsibility to his children and his past poor behavior shouldn't be absolved. At the same time, this is a huge mountain for him to stare into and I fear that it could cause a setback to the progress he has made to better himself and get a grip onto his own life.
I have decided that I am not absolving anything. Instead, I wrote my ex mother in law and laid it out for her - what the situation was, so that she could possibly help him either financially or by getting him some financial education. I felt very uncomfortable writing her - although we have maintained a relationship all these years. But we never talked about her son or that he wasn't paying child support - so to bring it up now was very uncomfortable.
Perhaps I made the wrong decision - but it has been made and done, so not much I can do about it now.
Just another example of how poor financial choices from years past can come back to possibly destroy your future. Its best to stare those debts in the face and do what needs to be now rather than wait a decade to face the music.
Here is an overview breakdown on my financial picture (since I haven't posted it yet):
Assets: $61,720 (House/Vehicle estimates - no personal goods)
Debt: $49,876.38 (including mortgage and vehicle)
Total Net Worth: $26,588.10
Further breakdown of Debts:
Old Republic: $2,636.38
Masters Degree Loan: $1,483
After High School, I joined the US Army, where I joined into the Thrift Savings Plan, or TSP, which is, for the sake of simplicity, like a 401k plan.
After 10 years of service, I left active duty to pursue my dream of completing my education, which I am happy to report I did (with ZERO student debt to boot!).
I rejoined the workforce after graduation in 2010, and my current company offers a 401k plan, which I am a participating in.
Since I am getting back into getting my financial house in order, the fact that I still had money in the TSP came back to me in the middle of the night. I found the last documents I have from the TSP, which are dated from 2007. I can't log into the TSP website right now though (they changed the account numbers and I have to wait for them to mail me my new logon information) but since my last TSP information I have on file includes the share amounts I have in each fund, I was able to determine, based on closing prices, the market value of my TSP account.
Now, I have to call Fidelity, (the company that is managing my current 401k) to see what I need to do to complete a roll over. While the TSP is a good program and I like the fund options - I can not put any more money into the fund since I am not active duty and I would prefer the balance amount to be in a fund that I can actively manage and add principle to throughout time.
I told my husband that I found some extra retirement savings. He asked me how I could have forgotten that I had the account. The answer to that is simple - when one is not paying attention, the mind tends to forget what it has!
I was in an interesting conversation with another person - (contrary to when I have conversations with myself) about charitable giving.
Now, I have not yet posted my total debts and whatnot on this blog (will be getting to that shortly - I do have it all in a spreadsheet!), but I do have some debts.
And even with the debts, I budget charitable donations each and every month.
This other person basically started lecturing me about how I could use that money to get out of debt faster.
I responded (as politely as I could), that personal finances were exactly that - [bPERSONAL[/b]. And while yes, the money I budget for charity could assist me in getting out of debt faster, I personally feel a sense of obligation in charitable giving.
For the record, I am not giving a record breaking amount. My charitable donations this year are projected to be $650. Broken into 26 pay periods, we are looking at about $25 a pay period.
I personally feel that even with my debts that my family and I are extremely blessed. My children have never felt the pangs of starvation, the uncertainty of where they will sleep, or any of the other discomforting and sometimes horrifying things that occur in this world. We have more than we need and that $25 a pay check is not going to take food out of their mouths or get us kicked out of our home.
And while the amount of money I give every two weeks may not change the world, it assists in comforting 13 people every two weeks with a warm meal, a safe place to sleep, and medical attention here in the United States.
I have a financial plan, and I want out of debt. But I don't think I should stop helping my fellow man completely simply for the reason of reducing my debt 1 to 2 months earlier than projected. At some point, your own values have to come into play and isn't the point of budgeting to prioritize what is important to YOU and YOUR family?
What do you guys think about charitable giving while paying off debt? Is it something that you continue(d) to do - or something that you put off for the short term?
Spent $38.56; Saved $56.26 at the Wally World today!
Purchased a lot of HBA items and household cleaning items.... good news is, I won't have to purchase soap for my husband for probably about 6 months... I also scored FREE nail polishes for the girls that I can give them for Valentines Day (actually, with the coupon, they made me .03 each!)
When I gave the cashier my coupons, he asked how long it took me to find the coupons and the deals, (after commenting to me "do you know how long it is going to take me to write my name on all of these?"). I told him the honest truth, that it really doesn't take that long - and besides, I want to "live better"!
The best part though, was when my 14 year old daughter told the cashier - "You are lucky she didn't bring her binder inside - it could have been a lot worse" in response to his writing his name on the coupons comment. I love that kid!
A woman that I work with invited me to join her at her mom's group Coupon Club - and I had a blast!
Not only was I able to trade coupons that I will never use (my family is way out of the diaper stage!) and score bunches of coupons that we will be able to use, I also had the pleasure of meeting new people who share a similar interest!
Which is really nice, considering the only people I know in my town are ones that I work with. (Kinda new to the area... well, been here about a year and half - meeting people has gotten harder as I have gotten older!)
Now, off to cook up some stir-fry for dinner and get ready for the next episode of The Walking Dead!
I am unprepared this year for Valentine's Day.
Which is silly. Because its the same day. EVERY YEAR. Like Christmas or Birthdays.
Luckily, only one child is still young enough to be involved in Valentine Day Card swaps at school. So I purchased her a kit of Valentines for $3.19.
Every year, I usually get all the kids a little something for V-Day. Its never anything huge: V-Day socks from the Target dollar bin; Silly V-Day pens (from the same dollar bin); and a huge Hershey's Kiss (cause I love them!)
Money is tight this month, though. And I didn't budget for this event. So, now I have to decide what to do - what to do.
I will disclose that I use coupons. I would not be what some would deem "extreme" - but I average about 50% savings. By using coupons in conjunctions with sales, I get to stretch my grocery dollars further, and from time to time, get to purchase some "treats" that we otherwise wouldn't get. Even when I was blowing off monitoring my funds, I still used my coupons.
This weeks grocery trip, I spent $37.21 and saved $26.07 - or 41%.
I wish I could have hit that 50% mark, but I gave a dollar to the food drive and had to purchase some other things that I did not have coupons for - such as bread, milk and eggs.
My weekly grocery budget is $63. So I am $25.79 under budget for the week! YaY!
New to SA; not new to the financial forum/blog world. The last couple of years I have somewhat fallen off the wagon; that is, I have lost sight of my financial goals and watching where my money is actually going.
I woke up one morning recently and said "Self, what the hell have you been doing!?!"
So here I am - blogging for mental accountability and being part of a community of people who want to better their financial situations through planning, work, and budgeting!