Tag Archives: Budget

Saving and Homemaking 5/7

IMG_2208Planting

DH ordered a huge pile of mulch and has been spreading that in all of our garden beds.  We are still having frost and even freeze warnings at night, so we haven’t even gotten the peas planted yet.  We keep saying, ‘Maybe this coming week . . .’  Meanwhile, the lawn is growing like mad despite the cold temps.

Saving

This week was Teacher Appreciation Week and I won a gift certificate to Sur la Table and also a cutting board and knives.  I am very appreciative for the gift and the nice snacks and meals the parents provided for us.

DH happened upon a 50% off haircut at our local walk-in salon.

I used $ 4.00 in Extra Cash at CVS to purchase two jars of peanut butter.  The Extra Cash was just about to expire.  It’s maddening when an ECB escapes only to be found after expiring.  #Cvsproblems  I also took advantage of the extra cash given for Colgate toothbrushes and Kleenex.  Generally I only play “the CVS game” when it is an item we will use and the price is a good deal.

IMG_4055-private_fotorCooking

I found a nice size bag of frozen broccoli florets for 1.98 at Trader Joes.  This should hold us until fresh prices come back down.  Speaking of produce prices, garlic is also in short supply right now.  The produce report said, “Concerning Chinese imports, in February US Customs placed a hefty import duty ($4.71/Kg) on one of the few Chinese shippers who historically had little to no duty. The 2016 Chinese crop was already less than normal. This additional factor has further lessened the amount of Chinese product available in the US market.”  California garlic is a few months away from being ready.

We have been pretty diligent with eating meals at home for the last few weeks, so much so it feels like I have made every meal so recently.  I look forward to summer to have time to try some new recipes.  For the week ahead, we are going to have to roll with it because suddenly so much is going on with ballet, school concerts, and the like.  On Sunday I made some hard boiled eggs which can always work into a salad meal or to accompany tuna salad.

Cleaning

Better than anticipated!  I moved a few couches to vacuum, moved an end table to wash under it, and detail dusted some accent tables that are usually ignored.  My lofty goals for the week include putting away the mittens and hats and detail dusting the bathroom blinds.

Reading

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“American Street” by Ibi Zoboi, about a young Haitian immigrant.  I’m having many thoughts about this book related to the state of American homelife, which I will share in a separate post.

I hope your week was good and that if you are busy with soccer, baseball, recitals, and spring concerts, know that quieter days are ahead and enjoy the madness while you can.

 

 

 

 

Debt Free Anniversary

Pink Roses

Stopping to smell the roses….

We were relaxing on the couch last night and I remembered that this Thursday is our debt-free anniversary.  My husband and I had to think back to how many years have elapsed since we paid off our house.  Six!  Every year I have to count back to figure it out.  DD was in kindergarten when we sent that last check off to Wells Fargo, and now she is in middle school.

It takes hard work to pay off your house and credit cards, but it is just as big of a challenge to stay out of debt afterwards because there is no “end” goal to count down to.  It’s just — stay out of debt and keep staying out of debt.

Over the past 6 years we managed to re-side our house, buy a new car, and added  a bathroom to the basement without going into debt.  To accomplish these required a lot of saving and budget meetings week in and week out.  It’s possible to pay cash for these expenses though when you aren’t making payments.  Our next major expense is hopefully a trip to the UK in 2017.  To accomplish this… saving, budget meetings every Saturday night, and using my part-time employment to put towards the vacation budget line.

If you are currently in the debt payoff process, keep at it with that gazelle-like intensity.  Efforts like clipping coupons and having no spend days are fine, but none of these things can rival the amount of money you save when you aren’t paying interest on car, home, college and credit cards.

Thursday we will probably celebrate by getting take-out dinner of some sort, and perhaps a family activity this weekend like going for ice cream. . .  or Chik Fil A 🙂

 

 

Nissan Giveth, Nissan Taketh Away

Last year I came back from dropping our daughter off at school, only to find Mr. Saver in the driveway holding a chunk of metal from the bottom of our car.  Not good… And a resulting repair that was over $1,000.  Fast forward to this winter, when we got a recall notice from Nissan. Yes, it was a recall for the problem we had experienced.  

  • Lesson One… Open mail and read!
  • Lesson Two… Get on the phone and find out what to do if you already fixed the recall 

Nissan said we still needed to go through the recall process and then we could request a refund for the repair. They would determine what could be reimbursed after we faxed all the work orders.

  • Lesson three… Have a place you can find your receipts.

We took care of everything and submitted the paperwork for a refund of the original repair.  Good news!  A check for about $1,000!

Do your kids ever read those “choose your own ending” books?  

You receive a $1,000 refund from Nissan.  

If you take the $1,000 and hit the mall–surprise money!–go to page 46.

If you take the money and book a spring break trip–you deserve it!– go to page 112.

If you take the money and put most of it back into your car repair budget line, go to page 130.

Guess what?  All the choices end in the same place!  Four weeks after receiving the check your car now needs a new muffler.  Are you left wondering whether you can still return that new purse, or are you grateful that you topped up the car repair budget?  We were grateful for the car repair budget, because Nissan Giveth and Nissan Taketh Away.  

Did You Give Your Inner Child a Credit Card?

No ConsequenceesMany things about being an adult come as a rude awakening:

  • I thought I would never go to the dentist when I grew up.  Now I go twice a year and make my kid go too!
  • I thought I would grow up and be able to eat Cheetos whenever I wanted, every day if possible!  My grown-up self fears the effects of that kind of eating.
  • If I had known our income today I would have thought it would be enough to live like the Drummonds in “Diff’rent Strokes”.  Reality is decidedly non-Park Avenue.

One other “unfair” part of being a grown-up is that while we are fortunate to be able to afford many things, we have to save our own money for them! Seriously disappointing!  Even being debt-free has not made a money tree grow in our backyard.  If we say we want something – be it Starbucks, or taking a special vacation – we have to come clean with ourselves and allocate money towards what we value.

That “coming clean” part of budgeting can be a little mentally painful, because my human nature wants all the pleasure with no pain.   This isn’t a pity party, but I want to capture the thoughts that go through my mind every week on Saturday when we update our weekly budget.   We confront our financial choices twice in our house – once when we enter the purchase into Quicken, and the next time when we close out our budget at the end of the week and see what we spent.  This “reality check” is what keeps our inner child from running away with our bank account.  Pout.

If you find expenses like lattes, drinks after work, eating out, or new clothes are busting your budget – or that you can’t commit to a budget – could it be that the kid part of your personality isn’t on board with the reality of adulthood – a reality where the consequences are all ours to enjoy?

 

brokeGIRLrich

 

 

Trying to Stay A Step Ahead of Murphy

One change we have made to our budget process in the last 6 months is to add a line in the spreadsheet for “Large Appliance/Home Repair.”  Our intention with this savings category is to surprise “Murphy” by being financially prepared when something breaks.

Can you beat Murphy all the time?  No, but we did have a recent victory!  Our dishwasher was becoming unreliable and reluctant to turn on.  It was inconvenient, but not a crisis because we had built up funds for such an occurrence by saving $25.00-$50.00 a week when we could.  We were able to pay in full for a new dishwasher and we still have several hundred dollars available. Now that we withdrew money from that budget line, we will put attention on replenishing it.

We also keep a spreadsheet listing our major appliances, the date purchased, and the date the warranty expires.  The spreadsheet helps us be aware of any items that may be coming due for replacement.  If your conventional water heater is 12 years old, you’re easy pickings for Murphy!  When you have been a homeowner for a while it is so easy to think that you just replaced something, only to find that it’s 10 years old.  Knowing a replacement is on the horizon gives us time to watch for sales or begin researching options.

 
*Part of Financially Savvy Saturdays on brokeGIRLrich, & A Disease Called Debt

Small Signs Point to Spring

Vintage-Winter-Birds-Image-GraphicsFairy-1024x392In our northern location, one of the few birds that sticks around are cardinals.  In the past week, despite the 10 degree F temperatures, I have heard Mr. Cardinal singing.  I think he was singing “Baby It’s Cold Outside.”  Works on the ladies every time!

The other sign of spring was I caught Mr. Saver looking out of the sunroom window at his raised garden beds, with thoughts of “doing something different” out there this year.

We decided that when we work through our budget this Saturday night we will take a good look about whether our finances are ready for spring as well.

Areas where our budget is ready for spring, and beyond:

  • We have summer vacation expenses covered
  • We have kid’s summer activities and camps covered

Areas that need attention soon:

  • We have a wedding to attend and need to set aside some gift money for that
  • We have no money set aside for gardening, and it is always more than we expect
  • We have no money set aside for Mom/Daughter summer fun.  This is to cover things like going to a local summer festival, American Girl sales, rummages, lunch out, taking a friend to the movies.
  • May need to revisit the clothing budgets and see if they are ready for spring

Vintage-Daffodil-Picture-GraphicsFairy-543x1024It has been so cold this week that we have barely spent any money from our weekly budget other than buying fruits and veggies, and a few gallons of gas until I got too cold waiting for the tank to fill!  We will re-route our weekly money towards some of these happy spring expenses.

My Spreadsheet Thinks It’s Summer!

La Galera beach

Photo: Wikipedia

While the temperature is an icy cold 6 degrees Fahrenheit outside, in my budget it is already summer!  Our budget accounts for recurring expenses (such insurance, utilities, etc.),  upcoming expenses that need to be funded, and also larger goals such as retirement.

In upcoming expenses for 2014, we are starting to fund a variety of needs between now and summer.  They include:

  • A new hot water heater – Ours is pushing the limits of its expected lifespan at the age of 13.  We will be prepared to replace it in summer when I am off work.
  • Tires and brakes on one car.  We began funding this in 2013 by setting aside money each week.
  • Summer kid activities – Registration for summer camps and activities usually begins in February or March, so this category needs attention right away.  We have $200 set aside from 2013.
  • Vacation – We have been using my checks from part-time work to fund our vacation category and have a good amount saved, but not enough.  Read more here about our decision to make saving for vacation a family affair.

Those are the big items for the next 6 months.  Every Saturday night we have a final look at our expenses from the past week and any unspent money is allocated towards these budget goals.  Setting aside $10-20.00 a week does add up, and keeps us from falling back into the arms of Citibank!