Monday, November 29, 2010

2011 Goals

For me, personally, the best way to get over setbacks is to look to the future. With that in mind I have begun setting my 2011 goals. Here's what I have come up with so far:

1. Establish a $1000 E-fund.
2. Pay off $8,800 in debt. This includes our medical and credit card debt, and would bring the truck loan balance down to $3,000.
3. Graduate from college (again.) Barring any unforeseen circumstances, I'll have my master's in June.
4.  Continue to lose weight. Goal is 8-10 more pounds.
5.  Find a way to make $50 in snowflakes per month.

This is a partial list and I am sure I will add to/tweak it. But it's a start!

One step forward...

Just when I was starting to feel like we were on the right track..

...I woke up this morning to a very sick kiddo. After a trip to the doctor, a prescription for antibiotics, and a stop at the store for over-the-counter needs I was out beaucoup dollars. (Typically I would get these funds back at the end of the week from my FSA, but I finished out my FSA dollars for the year last week!)

Then I came home to a chilly house which reminded me to check the oil tank. OOPS! Glad I looked. I thought we had a quarter tank, but the gauge was just over "E." So I called and ordered oil.

So much for that extra chunk I added to the E-fund last week. I drained the E-fund from $549 down to $199.

I'm glad I had the money but so discouraged. I can add back those funds out of my second December check but that's a long time to wait. I'm wondering if I need to keep more cash on hand - really, I shouldn't have to use emergency funds for these items, but I have been so focused on accumulating a cushion that I haven't been leaving myself much in the way of wiggle room in my budget. Sigh.

I think this is where most people who are working on debt get discouraged - it's one step forward, and two steps back. It just seems so pointless to work toward a goal when it keeps getting further away.

I'm off to list some items on Ebay to try to make a little extra cash.


Sunday, November 28, 2010

Super productive day

I don't have much news on the money front, except that I used a Black Friday deal to open an ING account for our daughter and got a $25 account bonus. She already has a savings account at a brick and mortar bank, but I couldn't pass up a free $25 for literally 5 minutes worth of work. I can withdraw the free cash or add it to my own ING account after 30 days. Since ING is where I stash the majority of my E-fund, this is super convenient for me. Hooray for free money. It will be added to the snowflakes. :)

On the non-money front we had a super productive day: scrubbed down the two upstairs bathrooms, vaccuumed the whole house, got four loads of laundry washed, dried, folded and put away, made a corn chowder, did two loads of dishes, cleaned the front hall closet, and matched up a mountain of socks. Speaking of which, am I the only one who leaves socks in a basket to be matched at a later date?  I HATE this task. We had a whole laundry basket full and did them all today.

The only housework we didn't get to was cleaning out my truck and the other half of our garage. Currently I'm only able to fit in there; we need to clean the other side so the husband can park inside too. It's getting way too cold to keep the cars outside. I think we might do this next weekend - I have a mountain of baby items stacked up out there to give to my niece who is expecting on 12/27. Her baby shower is this Saturday, so I am planning on bringing those items to her then. It will free up a big chunk of space for the car.

It's been a good five days off but it's back to the reality of work tomorrow. I also owe a big project for my grad class - it ended on the 17th but I missed the end due to surgery. The professor was kind enough to give me the final as a take-home test, but it's due tomorrow and I haven't started yet. I'm really not into grad school right now, but in order to get a grade I have to pass this in. Ugh. I'll get it done...probably at 11:59 pm tomorrow night. I'm very glad that when I turn this in, I won't have any schoolwork until January.  :)

That's it, blog friends. Have a great night.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Payday Wednesday Update

So once again the money came in...and went out again in a hurry! I paid all the bills this morning. With my minimum payment on our next medical debt, I lowered our balances to under $104,000....woo hoo! It's still incredibly overwhelming, but we'll get there.

I had  $241 after I paid bills. I am still expecting an FSA reimbursement of $54 this week, also.  All together that totals $295 for spending money (gas, personal items), savings and debt goals.

I added $186  to the Efund today- my $50 auto withdrawal from paycheck, $11 snowflake from an Ebay auction, and $125 out of the $295 "extra" from this paycheck. I could have added more, but wanted to keep a little more cash on hand in case I decide to do a little holiday shopping this weekend, which is entirely possible. I will have $170 to last me two weeks.

So, the sidebar is updated with our progress for this week. Since we're heading out of town tonight for the next two days, I won't be back on to post until Saturday most likely.

Have a wonderful Thanksgiving, folks! I know I am incredibly grateful for all the blessings in my life, my family and friends in particular.


Tuesday, November 23, 2010


Like many of you PF bloggers out there, I love my snowflakes and find lots of great ways to earn a little bit of money on the side. I've never really tracked my snowflakes though, and I am wondering if now might be the time to do so? For those of you who track your 'odds and ends' of money, have you found that helpful in conquering debt? And do you have a certain way that you handle your snowflake money which ensures it goes directly towards your savings or debt goals? Enlighten me, please.  :)

(I have an Ebay auction ending tonight.)


Sunday, November 21, 2010

Consumerism and Children

As the holidays and their rampant consumerism approach, I have noticed an increase in the "I Wants" that come out of our daughter. Specifically, it's about every other commercial on her TV shows that she wants us to buy her.

Now, I can't blame TV entirely for her consumerism. The truth is it stems form several sources. Advertising is only one.

To be honest, our daughter is an only child and is..doted on. We're not extravagant, but it is pretty normal for her to get a small treat when she goes to the store with us. So we are to blame for a lot of it.

Secondly, our daughter's closest friends in school come from pretty wealthy families. One girl she's close to in particular is the only child of a high earning, high consuming couple. Two other girls she likes have parents who buy their kids pretty much whatever they want. They're always bringing the latest trinket or gadget to school.

We don't do that, and I think she has begun to notice. She asks for a lot more things now. When I tell her we don't have money for something, she says, "Just use your credit card!"  (Eeeek! Eeeek! I can hear you all out there in blog land screaming now. Truth is, she doesn't know the difference between a debit and a credit card, she just sees me swiping a piece of plastic.)

So, since we have begun this blog we have used cash or debit only, with a much larger emphasis on cash. I will admit I still pay for some things with debit or checks.

I struggled for a while on how to teach her the basics of personal finance. On a recent business trip I bought her a small, cute, age appropriate wallet. I put two dollars in it.

I brought it home, gave it to her, and explained about her money. I also told her that when we go to stores now she needs to bring her wallet. If she wants something, it will depend on whether or not she has enough cash for it. She was delighted!

So far this seems to go well. She got a $5 bill in the mail from Grandma at Halloween. We put it in her wallet. Later that week we were at a store and she asked me for something in the checkout aisle. I told her she could buy it with her money, and she agreed. She made her very first purchase all on her own. I am not sure who was prouder, her or me!

So far, the wallet seems to be helping us teach her about money. She knows she has a savings account with money in it, but it isn't spent - she only spends what's in her wallet. Just this past week, she's been asking for less at stores, and counting her money when she does ask for things. It's a step in the right direction. It seems like the tide is turning. Additionally, since she's still learning numbers, the dollar denominations have been helping her in that area.

It seems our first attempt to thwart consumerism in our child has worked. I am curious, how do you deal with this with your children? Our daughter is still quite young, but I am interested in other ideas as she grows.

Happy football Sunday,

Saturday, November 20, 2010


I'm actually feeling quite a bit better. Thanks for all the get well wishes!  I went out to lunch today with the fam and went to a store to buy boots for kiddo for the winter. We had a coupon for a free meal and hadn't done anything as a family like that in a long time. It was a good day. I wasn't able to eat much, but it was nice to get out.

The boots cost  $36 so that took most of what I had set aside in the bank. I had planned on around $40 and had left $41 in my checking account for when I shopped for them, so now checking's down to $5. I know we can get boots cheaper but when it comes to winter boots for the weather here, I like to pay a little more and know my little darling's feet will be toasty warm and dry. Her winter coat (LL Bean) and snowsuit for this season are hand-me downs and I bought an inexpensive but warm hat and mitten set at Target for her. She's all set to go for the snow!

Buying the boots meant I didn't have any more cash until payday (Wednesday)....or so I thought. When I got home I was cleaning out some paperwork on the hutch and found a $10 bill! Woo hoo! So that will last me until my next check.

 I've calculated our bills for the next payday and it looks like I will have roughly $300 left over. The only thing we absolutely need are haircuts which cost  $37 for the 3 of us. Other than that, I am not sure what we will do with the overage.  We do need to start thinking about Christmas. Typically we cash flow our Christmas money because my husband gets a large commission check on Dec 15th. This year, not sure of our plan - if we will want to save ahead, or just take it out of our larger-than-usual income. It's something to think about. We need to discuss it more.

The other thought I had was oil...I will need to order soon, so maybe we should use our overage toward that. Ahhh, winter in Maine.

I have pretty much resigned myself to not making any large dents in our debt until after Christmas, and I'm okay with that. I had hoped to have the medical bills paid off by then end of the year, but the unexpected $430 one we received a couple of weeks ago pretty much destroyed that hope. At this point, I will be okay with just making it through the holidays on cash only and building our Efund a bit in the meantime. Then, tackling debt come Jan 1. It's not ideal, but it works for me.

I'm just so impatient that I want the debt to go away NOW...but it didn't grow overnight, so I can't expect it to disappear quickly, either. It's a lesson for me. In fact, I think that's one of the biggest lessons in personal finance. The has-to-happen-now attitude is what led us to debt in the first place. It won't lead us out.  Slow and steady wins the race.

Anyhoo, I'm rambling again so I will wrap this up. I am working on our Christmas list for 26 people in Excel right now. I'm glad I have all ready bought some things.  Eeek! How is your holiday shopping going?

Have a great weekend!

P.S. The silver lining to tonsillectomy?  I have lost 11 pounds! I had wanted to lose a few; I'm not overweight, but needed to drop some to be at a weight where I feel I look my best.  Now I am thinking I might try to lose about 8-10 more...if I did I would weigh what I did in college. It's something to think about. As a diet plan, though, I would not recommend surgery. :) I'll go a healthier route if I decide to lose more.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Wednesday again

Sorry I have been absent....the recovery from the tonsillectomy has been torturously slow. I'm still not there yet but I am getting there.

Not much has changed on the debt and saving front. I paid bills and updated the balances on the car loans, and also added another $50 to savings. Slowly we're building it up.

We're on cash, it's one week until payday, and I have $41in the bank and $22 in my wallet. The only expense I have this week is possibly new boots for our daughter, if I can find some we like. Also, I am home right now and not driving or going anywhere, so I have had lots of no-spend days. Good for the budget!

I guess that's all. Please pardon the rambling nature of my post as I am still on pretty heavy painkillers.  I will update again this weekend with thoughts on how to spend the second paycheck of the month.

Ta ta for now!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Wicked Wednesday

There isn't much news to report. Today was payday and I paid the bills with not much to spare. The first check of the month always gets eaten; the second half of the month we do better.   I haven't paid down much more debt but added another $50 to savings today. Our Efund is growing!

Though there hasn't been much progress on the debt front, a couple good things have happened. I've completed a little bit of Christmas shopping (with cash.)  And more importantly...

It's been one month since I started this blog. And one month since I charged ANYTHING!  Woo hoo!

I'm off now to the hospital to have my tonsils removed. The fridge is full of goodies for my recovery. Please forgive me if I don't post for a few days...or if I do and my posts are full of typos and poor grammar due to the drugs. :)

Have a lovely day,

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Sooo, this is a drag

Our unexpected medical bill has absolutely drained us. We have literally about $20 until next Wednesday when I get paid. Oh, and did I mention I am having my tonsils removed Wednesday? Yeah. This sucks.

Should I have not paid that bill in full?

Monday, November 1, 2010

Update on expenses

I've made a little progress on our monthly expenditures:

1. Canceled data plan on my phone. Savings: $20/month
2. Reduced cable bill. Savings : $32/month
3. Deferred student loan payments until June : Savings: $560/month (not really saving, but I don't have to pay it out right now)
4. Groceries:  Reduced this last month by about $25. Not great, but it's something

That's it so far, but it's a little encouraging in the face of a big expense we didn't expect.


Although the Halloween weekend was fun, I have had a bit of discouragement over the past few days. The first was that I WAY overspent this wekeend. Clearly, I should not embark upon a weekend out of town with a large amount of unspoken-for cash sitting in my checking account. I blew about $160 on my debit card on Halloween supplies, food, and gas. Ick.

Secondly, I got an unexpected medical bill in the mail over the weekend. I had thought the balance was taken care of because I hadn't heard from the provider or gotten a statement in about 2 months. Turns out, the office was in transition to a new medical practice/location and they hadn't billed at all during the's a one-man operation more or less, and they just didn't send bills during that time. Though they gave me a large discount on the balance I still owe $430.32.

So, long story short is this: what was a large amount of idle money to be devoted to my goals is now gone. Ugh.  I'm so depressed.

At least I didn't use my credit card...there is at least a ray of hope for me.