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Vacation Vacation

March 19th, 2013 at 10:06 am

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!

Electric Bill

March 12th, 2013 at 01:33 pm

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!

Just saved $413.28 a year!

March 7th, 2013 at 07:44 am

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*)

Swag Bucks

March 4th, 2013 at 09:00 pm

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? Smile ) 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?

Child Support Surprise

March 2nd, 2013 at 12:54 pm

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.

Bills Bills Bills

March 1st, 2013 at 08:13 pm

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!)

February Net Worth

February 28th, 2013 at 08:44 pm

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!)

BreakDown:

Investments: $13,701.55
Checking: $2,237.35
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!

My 2013 Card savings = $191.01

February 20th, 2013 at 01:24 pm

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!

Child Support

February 19th, 2013 at 10:49 pm

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.

Charitable Giving

February 12th, 2013 at 08:52 pm

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?

Another day...

February 11th, 2013 at 06:32 pm

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... Smile 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!



Valentine's Day Budget

February 10th, 2013 at 09:49 am

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.

Grocery Store Adventures

February 9th, 2013 at 11:04 pm

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!