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Planning Ahead

March 17th, 2015 at 06:07 pm

It occurred to me this morning that it is really much more fun to tell other people what's wrong with the way the earn, spend, and invest their money than to sit down and make some of the hard decisions about my own money.

No seriously. Tell me what your next paycheck is going to be and I'll form a 100% correct opinion in the next 20 seconds. My own? Blah.

Next month is EXTRA PAYCHECKS month around here which means some decisions have to be made. This is my thinking so far.

Roth IRA Investment Account $1,000

Car Repair Sinking Fund $1,000 (we totally emptied this out a couple of months ago when all 3 of our cars decided to get sick the same week)

Peer 2 Peer Lending Investments $300 (This Investment Account continues to do quite well for me, still earning a respectable 8%)

Child 1, Child 2 .. $200 Money I'll put in savings in order to handle the next unexpected expense they throw my way

House Repair - $1000 Our Chimney Rebuild has been completed and now we move on to a driveway resurface project

Schwab Taxable Investment Fund - $300

Education - $1000 Tuition money

Total $4800. So a little bit toward several of our goals. No vacation or big spending sprees. Maybe putting it here will make it more committed. But I'll likely change my mind about 10 or 20 more times before we actually get the money next month.

I am at about 2310 Swagbucks. Has anybody else ever noticed how hard it is to earn the last couple hundred needed to cash out? But as soon as I get enough for a $25 Paypal, I'll likely be sending that to my Loyal3 Investment account.

Ebates and Tax Estimate

February 6th, 2015 at 08:20 pm

Received $52.90 from Ebates today. Haven't quite decided where to send the money but it will go into one of the investment accounts.

We have about 90% of the paperwork we need to complete our taxes, and all of the major items like W2 forms and our Real Estate Taxes. So far our Federal Refund looks to be around $8k. This is mostly because I was extremely busy last December and didn't have time to look closely at all the numbers, so I had husband's company withhold a huge amount of his year end bonus just to be "safe." I guess I hit safe and then some. I haven't looked at the State yet but I've never gotten a huge refund or owed a huge amount on the State return.

The good thing about this is it should cover our heating and a/c system upgrades planned for this summer. Now I can move on to saving for some roof repairs and fixing up our driveway.

Since 2015 will likely be similar to 2014 in terms of income, I'm reducing our quarterly estimated payments.

It is time for Murphy to leave my house!

January 8th, 2015 at 04:12 pm

Uuuugh.

So far this month…and it is only the 8th!!!!!!

$720 for heating and plumbing emergencies caused by cold weather

$150 to fix and seal up a window that developed a leak around the edges - caused by cold weather

$1898 for auto breakdowns (2 cars in the same month)

$190 and climbing for vet bills - Little dog had a seizure. Hopefully won't have another one but needs to go back in 2 weeks for another blood test.

Also had to put down a $1000 deposit to a masonry to have our fireplace rebuilt. They obviously can't do it in the current -2degree weather but they wanted a deposit to order the bricks etc and hold our spot for the work when the weather finally warms up.

Gosh it seems to pile up sometimes.

Thinking Ahead For Summer

March 21st, 2013 at 01:49 pm

One of my sons will be living here over the summer and taking summer classes at a local college. I was realizing yesterday what a pain this is going to be for me because he is going to be sharing my car. His class schedule is going to run from 8am until 3pm two days a week, and noon to 3pm two days a week --- with Fridays off.

So I'm going to have to plan for a higher gasoline bill plus a much bigger grocery bill (this kid eats like crazy!). Plus, I won't have my car to drive many days. The campus is fairly close to my husbands work and I'm thinking he can drive in with my husband some of the time -- except my husband usually leaves goes to work around 6:30am. Thankfully it is only for 7 weeks.

The other option is to nudge him toward the online section of one of his classes. He doesn't like online classes as well so he signed up for the on campus section. But if he was online, then I'd only be losing my car 2 days instead of 4 days.

Definitely going to have to plan for the budget and talk to him again.

Happy Day!

March 1st, 2013 at 02:26 pm

I like the first day of the month because that is the day I make transfers from our checking account to various savings account. I hate to sound all corny and everything, but it does give me a feeling of peace to put money into savings. So today I transferred

$405 to Emergency Funds (the $5 is because I have a rule that part of all money in must go to Emergency Funds and I just received a $25 Paypal payment from Swagbucks).

$370 to Repairs and Insurance

$200 to Tuition Savings

Sadly nothing to the Vacations and Gifts fund because I need to keep it in our checking account to pay for the computer I bought my Mom.

I took the world's longest survey on Swagbucks this morning and earned 150SB immediately so the daily goal is met. I also ordered two $5 Amazon cards (daily limit) to put toward Holiday shopping. I have enough points built up to order two more tomorrow so I'll have maxed out the 5/450 point cards pretty early in the month. I'm expecting a big Swagbuck deposit soon from my husband buying dress shoes and a belt last month from Shoebuy.

Not much else going on. I'm very thankful it is the first of the month because that means the grocery budget resets and I can go shopping. Last night was chicken soup made from things I could find in our freezer and fridge. We need groceries BAD.

Happy March Everybody.

Done In!

February 26th, 2013 at 03:53 pm

I've worked our March Budget over about 12 different times this week trying to make the money fit what I want to accomplish. I think at this point I've about guesstimated everything the best I can and now I just have to make the lifestyle fit the numbers. That's the hard part.

I upped our auto fuel budget by $150 to cover my extra trips to see my Mom. That should be about 3 trips if I use my Husband's car instead of my gas guzzler and 2 trips if I use the SUV once. I offset that with decreasing savings to our tuition savings account because I have enough saved in there to pay for everybody's schooling through the end of 2013 and a good chunk of 2014.

I'd like to thank everybody for their kind support concerning the situation with my Mom. Senior social services in her area does not have the budget to assist. They classify her case as "self-neglect" which means they do nothing but put her name on a list of people they'd like to help if they ever get funding. If I or another family member were neglecting or abusing her they'd step in but she is allowed to neglect herself until the cows come home. I did get about a half-hour phone conversation with a Social Worker who recommended that I just continue on and try to be patient with her. My brother-in-law did go over to Mom's house last week wanting to help but Mom refused to let him into the house. Since I'm pretty much the only one who can get in there right now, I'm pretty much the one who gets to clean. Lucky me. LOL

At this point the work just continues. I have the kitchen completely clear and all the food locked up in airtight containers. Convincing Mom to keep the food in the airtight containers remains a problem but there have been signs in the house that she is making a small effort to clean things up. Right now, budget wise, the expense mostly consists of bleach, windex, and garbage bags which thankfully are pretty cheap. I've replaced her computer and I'm holding off on other big purchases in her house while we just clean. The physical and emotional toll of it is the worst part.

I hope to have the house clear enough that I can bring my boys in around May (after their finals) and they can help me move furniture and shampoo carpets. I haven't brought that idea up to Mom yet, I've found that overwhelming her with too many plans at once just makes her shut-down. Last week we agreed the kitchen needed to be cleaned up and now we're moving on to the bathroom.

With the final numbers in, because I don't expect to spend anything over the next couple of days, we finished February $28.10 under budget in groceries, gas, supplies and other similar categories and managed to save decent amount in our emergency savings. Plus, I expect to receive a $25 paypal payment from Swagbucks soon.

Hey, I'll take it!

Dipping Into the Repair Funds

February 19th, 2013 at 04:15 pm

and not for myself.

After another weekend trip to my Mother's and the resulting discussion of "You let me help get this place cleaned up or I start calling Social Services because I can't let you live like this......"

I got to work. After 6 hours of cleaning a very tiny house, by the looks it seemed like I hadn't even been there. Frown But I did get the unspeakable job of clearing out her refrigerator done. We are working on sanitizing it now. I had to buy her a mini dorm size fridge and freezer until we can't get that useable again. $231. I took her grocery shopping to buy some fresh food supplies but she paid for those herself. I also bought her some airtight containers to use to store food in until I get the rest of the kitchen cleared and disinfected. She promised to make sure to use them, hopefully I will find that she did when I get back. I also got her a phone with a second unit and got that hooked up (about $60 for the phones) and I got new batteries into the fire alarms and light bulbs all around the house. It was about $30 for all of that.

Further - Mom is going to need all of the following at some point. A new computer, a dishwasher (probably not a necessity but I think it would promote cleaner living), some new dishes (I threw out plenty that weren't cleanable), and some flooring. Her birthday is coming up and I already ordered her a computer because it really does help to keep her connected to the world. She likes to read Facebook of people she knows and visit a couple of blogs. I don't know exactly when her computer died but her disappearance from that was one of our first clues things were desperate.

I think she needs a new mattress for her bed too. I just can't do everything at once. I think Mom can cover some of these purchases herself from social security and her small pension - we'll have to see.

Medically she has made an appointment for tomorrow to speak with her doctor about her depression medication. My sister is sloowwwwwly coming around to trying to help a little. She did agree to go over on garbage day and haul the filled cans out to the curb because they are really heavy and Mom wouldn't be able to do that. I'm not going to insist my sister do more, she needs to get there on her own. My sister lives 10 minutes away and if she'd even just agree to help out by checking in on the house once a week and look things over, that'd be a huge help.

I've decided I need to concentrate on some of the good things.

1. I have emergency and repair savings accounts that I can use to help her here.
2. My husband is being awesome about all of this. He even made the suggestion of maybe we could find a housekeeper to go in and help once I get the house into better shape.
3. My Mom did allow me into the house and admitted she needs help.

So that is about where things stand. All told I think I'm going to have to spend about $1500 total getting her house in better shape. Then I need to rework our budget to account for my travel expenses down there more often. I did bring up the subject of her moving closer to me and she wasn't very agreeable to that, but she said she'd think about it.

Mid-Month Check

February 13th, 2013 at 03:34 pm

Tomorrow is 1/2 way through the month so I did a check on some of our budget numbers. Some, like the car repair accounts I just throw an amount into that "bucket" every month and I let it accumulate until we need it. Some, like groceries, we try to stay under the budget amount and then I zero it out and move the money into savings or do something fun at the end of the month.

These are some of the check numbers

Grocery - we have 53% of our budget left
Auto Fuel - we have 53% of our budget left
Clothing - we've used all the budget up
Home Maint - we've used all the budget
Miscellaneous - I have a slush fund of $122 to cover anything unexpected

There's more but I'm feeling fairly solid for the month. I don't think we're going to end up with a surplus like last month but we should stay on budget overall, after moving some amounts from fund to fund.

More on the Mom situation. I have raided my cleaning supplies and put them in a box to take down there. I also bought her a new vacuum because I'm not sure she has a working one at her house. I'm pretty sure the carpets are toast but I have to get it to a point where we can at least get them pulled up and hauled out of there. I'm taking our shop vac the next time I go down there, but it will have to come back home with me.

After I had forced my way in there last week it was obvious nothing has been vacuumed or cleaned in a very long time. I was trying to remember the last time I'd been inside the door and I think it was last summer. I called around to other family members and a neighbor of hers and she's pretty much been keeping everybody out of the house. Whenever anybody goes over to meet her or pick her up for something she meets them on the front porch and carefully shuts and locks that door so nobody can see in. The psychiatrists classify her as a hoarder but I don't agree because she really doesn't "hoard" anything. She just lives in filth and then things start to break but she won't tell anybody because they'd have to come over and see the house for it to get it fixed for her. I'm going to start a list next time I'm down there of everything that needs repaired. After I start making in-roads on getting things cleaner and stabilized, my husband is going to start helping with some of the repair work.

I've been looking hard at some of our savings accounts and I found that I have enough in the Education funds to get son #1 graduated this spring and then pay for son #2 through next winter. That's more than enough to get us through until the next bonus, which should pay for the bulk of son #2's tuition bills for the year after. I've been saving $400 a month into that account and I think we're going to cut that down in order to pay for the increased Mom-care expenses.

Drip Drip Drip Drip

February 4th, 2013 at 07:06 pm

Tiny little snowflakes have been appearing all morning. $3.84 Paypal deposit from QuickRewards, a $22 check for some textbooks I sold and I won $5 in a Superbowl pool.

The funny thing is that I am such a numbers geek, putting all those little snowflakes into my YNAB and then dutifully assigning them a job gives me such a happy feeling. I wish everyday could be a happy little snowflakes day.

My husband this weekend discovered we live in what is known as YNAB Bufferland, which means we have one full month of budget saved up in our checking account and we are living on January's income in February.

"You mean I can have ALL my allowance for the month right now?"

"You betcha!"

So then later on he asked how our other savings was doing and I showed him our Retirement spreadsheets, Vacation funds, and Emergency Savings. He gets these bursts of interest in our finances about two or three times a year. Otherwise, he's content just to know the ATM will give him his allowance whenever he asks for it. LOL

We are very much opposites attract in that manner because I HAVE to balance my checking account daily or I get hives. I even do it on vacation -- wake up and balance the checking account online.

I Had Such Big Plans

February 1st, 2013 at 03:59 pm

So earlier in the week I was looking at my Calendar and I noticed that February 1st happened to fall on Friday. Awesome! Because I had in the back of my mind this niggling thought that I should create a blog and what better time do accomplish that other than the first day of the month on a Friday --- which is typically the day when I have a good amount of free time.

Then Friday morning hit and my mind was a complete blank.

But here I am, and I had promised myself I would get this thing going, so let's all just push our way through.

My best piece of news for the week was that our family finished up the month of January $546.42 under budget. This was in categories such as Groceries, Entertainment, Clothing etc etc. Much discussion abounded amongst the household what to do with our windfall and the final decision was...

$100 to Emergency Savings
$100 to my Retirement Fund (separate from DH's 401k)
$300 to Our Big Adventure (vacations) and Gift Giving Savings Account

and the final $46.42 I gave to my older children to put onto their Student Loans. This was because they both spent a good amount of time here in January and I told them that if they would ~try~ not to eat me out of house and home and run us over budget in groceries I would split the "savings" with them.

So in other activity, I was recently watching a documentary from ESPN 30 for 30 titled "Broke." It has to deal with the enormous number of Professional athletes (over 70%) who find themselves bankrupt or in financial difficulties shortly after their careers ended.

I admit, I was fascinated as to how this could happen. These people make millions and millions of dollars and then it just ..... evaporates on them. My fascination is fueled a bit just by the sheer human nature of being attracted to other people's drama and failure as a means to make yourself feel better. I mean, sure I've made mistakes in my life but LOOK AT THEM, THEY'VE MADE MUCH BIGGER ONES!!! It is awfully judgmental of me.

Stepping back though I looked through that list of athletes and I realized they were all so young when they made their money and for the most part they went from relative poverty or at best middle class to enormous wealth. I tried to imagine what the results would be if somebody stuck a couple of million dollars into one of my 20-something children's bank account.

I have to tell you, it'd likely be a disaster. Just as it would have been a disaster if somebody had given me so much money in those early years of adulthood.

We talk much in this country about the lack of fiscal education. I think "Broke" shows this lack of such education at the most extreme level. It also shows our immaturity and failures personally (me included) and as a society. Most of us when we are young make financial mistakes, many of us (often me too) keep making them long after we are old enough to know better.

These athletes make them with lots of zeroes added onto the end as Dave Ramsey would say.

That's about all I can think of for now. I will try to get back in a couple of days to continue the blog. I do highly recommend the ESPN documentary Broke if you get the chance to see it.