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 Post subject: one step forward, two steps back
PostPosted: Sat Jul 05, 2008 10:28 am 

Joined: Sun Jun 01, 2008 10:13 am
Posts: 148
1. 2216 old cc debt BOA
782 LL
487 department store
3485 total

Still on track to have this paid off by September 26 except maybe the department store card.
$500 on LL card was plane ticket for mother in law and that will be reimbursed.
Department store card is the one giving me trouble as I need to stop charging on it until I can pay it in full on a regular basis. This is hard.

2. $4 personal savings (goal $1000+)
yeah, this makes me extremely uncomfortable. I have very little wiggle room. I want to automate more into my savings, but $5/ week is all I can spare this month.

3. My 401k contributions on 5% minimum for match until old BOA CC paid off.

4. 1230 house emergency fund (goal $5000)

5. 38,745 mortgage (goal $25,000) currently on track.


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 Post subject: making the money and month come out even
PostPosted: Mon Jul 07, 2008 5:32 pm 

Joined: Sun Jun 01, 2008 10:13 am
Posts: 148
This month's challenge is to end the month even. I'm currently @ -$239 for the month because I forgot to reconcile a check for an irregular expense at the end of June and I spent more on gas and groceries this week than I planned. The gas & groceries overspend is happening more often. We keep a $1000 in the checking as a buffer, so the goal is to get the buffer restored by the end of the month. This is part of the bigger picture as I figured at the current rate of consumption we would spend an extra $1590 the next 6 months on food, fuel, and tax increases above what we planned at the beginning of the year. Yeowch! I need to find new strategies.

Here's the weekly breakdown of additional expenses July-Dec:
Food $15X26= $290
Gas (both cars, includes fun & vacation travel) $30X26=$780
Heating oil & various taxes 20X26 =$520

I'm starting a saving journal to record ideas and what I actually do. I have more control over $ than I think. Change thoughts. Change habits.
I did one about this time two years ago for 10 days and it made an big impact. I'm going to look it over again.


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 Post subject: tracking every dime
PostPosted: Sat Jul 12, 2008 7:34 pm 

Joined: Sun Jun 01, 2008 10:13 am
Posts: 148
By cutting back on groceries, gas, debt repayment and having the phone bill come in a little under, I'm just $-88 away from the break even point this month. I think I'll be able to carve out the rest by the end of the month.

The budgetbusters are coming from my frugal spouse this month: checks to charities and his credit card. Every couple of weeks he cleans off his desk and writes out a bunch of smallish checks to charities that send solicitations. I budget an estimate for these each month, but some months it's a little more or a little less.
He also pays his cc bill in full when it comes. Again, no problem if he's under the estimated amount I budget. I've learned to call occasionally through the month now to check his balance because I do need to plan. Some months it's just about cash flow for the charities or credit cards and I don't worry knowing there's wiggle room later in the month. It looks like this month we'll have to tap reserves. There's just no wiggle room

I'm afraid my husband's going to go into Mr. Super Cheap mode if we tap savings just as we're about to go on vacation at the end of next week. (His CC gets paid then). At home this is not a problem and I try to embrace it, but on the road visiting with my family and friends it can be a little uncomfortable. I'll probably spend more to compensate unless I can figure out a better plan. I have to figure out a workable vacation financial plan, period.


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 Post subject: Paper cuts
PostPosted: Thu Jul 17, 2008 6:56 pm 

Joined: Sun Jun 01, 2008 10:13 am
Posts: 148
Goals Update

1. debts
payoff goal date: September 26, 2008 (possibly later if I want to have some cash for vacation?)
old debt $1916
macy's $560
LL $780
total :$3259
finance charges this month: $26.36

2. personal savings $26/1000
3. 401k
4. household emergency savings 1460/5000
5. mortgage $38,345/25,000

Getting the $1000 checking buffer back challenge: -$151, with gas & groceries this weekend ?$-274? I'm going to wait until we finalize next week's vacation plans and grocery shopping before I do much else. And a vacation spending plan for me. I can cut back on groceries & debt payments maybe.
If we need to tap savings to restore buffer, I''ll be ok with that. Shortage at this point caused by husband's visa bill running $300 over plan because of increased gas costs, travel & new car battery.

I'm in denial about how I'm going to get through vacation. The blacking hole sucking cash through our checking account this month has left me with fewer options than I anticipated.

My record keeping is improving this month. I'm trying to write down my expenses each day in both my planning notebook and my register so I know exactly what the balance is. It's satisfying. I'm currently paper & pen, but want to go online by October. My notebooks are a mess with notations and changes and little side notes. I did a quick budget sketch for next year to see how increased expenses will change our goals for next year and was dismayed to find it was difficult to quickly find all the information, I needed especially for non regular expenses.

other money related goals between now and October: keep tracking, organize papers & financial records, condense all important financial info onto a page, cash not debit for groceries and allowance, talk to husband about next year's goals & plans.


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 Post subject: tackling piles of papers
PostPosted: Sun Jul 20, 2008 9:13 am 

Joined: Sun Jun 01, 2008 10:13 am
Posts: 148
I was processing bills and statements and throwing them in the pile, then the bag, then the laundry basket next to my desk. My rationale? If I need something, its all in the same place and I just dig. All kinds of junk is in there I've discovered and I only found 5/6 of the previous month's bank statements. Pathetic. Time to get rid of the laundry basket of paper and organize what I need and shred the rest. This afternoon I'm going to finish decluttering and file what's left.

My husband shreds and burns most of the paper stuff that he comes in contact with now because so much can be found online. Oh, yeah, this could be a problem. Is there stuff I need to print out? I need to make sure we both have access to current id's and passwords.

Several years ago I had most of our important info on one page: account #s, phone numbers, contact info, where to find for everything related to finances, house, insurance. It was incredibly useful. Most of it has changed so I need to pull it together again. This is a priority for me this week.

I'm making a short list of what we need to get our hands on:
Bank statements
credit card statements (tax purposes)
retirement statements
current insurance coverage for house, auto, life
medical insurance, medical accounts,
Dr contact info
medical receipts not reimbursed
work related benefits
tax receipts for charity
tax receipts for real estate
birth certificates
wedding certificate
passports
contact info for utilities, oil, repair services etc.

I keep meaning to to do this kind of cleaning out and updating annually in January or before we do our taxes.


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 Post subject: Little victories
PostPosted: Fri Jul 25, 2008 10:27 am 

Joined: Sun Jun 01, 2008 10:13 am
Posts: 148
1. found a short term, 3 month CD with a great rate (4%) at a local bank by calling around this am.
2. my splurge/ impulse spending this week was less than $3 (2 cokes)
3. scrapped plans, had a quiet vacation at home and feel good about it
4. rejiggered the spending plan with spouse approval for rest of July/ August to pay off cc debt faster


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 Post subject: goals, gifting and getting real about spending
PostPosted: Mon Jul 28, 2008 8:43 pm 

Joined: Sun Jun 01, 2008 10:13 am
Posts: 148
I have measurable goals (pay off debts, fund savings and retirement) to get to the intangible: smoothly organized, forward moving, sustainable financial life. My husband has always had this zen calm about money and I want some level of that. Financial peace.

By default, gift giving has become my responsibility because I like to do it. One of the problems is, I think, somewhere along the way I fell into the trap of thinking that I have a bigger budget for gifts because I'm buying for us, from us. But I don't really yet. For example, today I tackled buying 4 wedding gifts: his cousin, my cousin, his best friend, my brother. I pulled registries and looked at their preferences, went to stores, examined items, thought carefully about how much I wanted to spend and made selections. Wrapped. Mailed. Done. Happy. Except I charged these items and realized afterward the money spent wasn't based anywhere in my current budget or goals. Not so happy to have lapsed into my old charge now figure out how to pay for it later habit.

I don't know where I'm going with this exactly but it's clear I have to lower my future gift giving expectations until I can figure a way to pay for them. Ditto with spending $ with/on nieces and nephews and quick reprieves at the Starbucks cafe. All my vices. Must s-l-o-w down and think before more debt piles on again.
[/b]


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 Post subject: spender culture
PostPosted: Wed Jul 30, 2008 8:33 pm 

Joined: Sun Jun 01, 2008 10:13 am
Posts: 148
Coming back from a vacation where I spent next to nothing and returning to my job at the department store in the mall has been spendthrift culture shock. Where I work I don't even need a debit card or cash to spend money, just my driver's license to access my account. Add 100 stores, a food court, a Starbucks lounge,a bevy of people shopping around you and spending more than you planned seems normal.

A very tightwaddy woman I work with has been out in the mall only three times in 8 years of working here and that was only for coffee and a meal out with other co-workers. She says she forgets about everything else because she doesn't see it.

Deciding that I needed to look at wedding registries my first day back merely fueled my gift giving fantasies when my defenses were low. I usually look at most department store's registries as aspirational rather than practical. It's really easy to spend too much on even practical items on sale with my discount and employee dollars off coupons. Not to mention the SUPER FUN "the look how much I saved" rationale, which comes out when I know I'm reaching. On my wedding gift to my brother I "saved" $585 off retail and "only" spent $184 on 9 silverware place settings and "free bonus items". I think I would have been just as happy buying 3 place settings and "saving" less because I much spent less. Would I be buying off the registry if I didn't work here? Hmmm. I am further lured in with the free gift wrap and shipping that I get because I spend charge stuff.

If it were anything but a wedding, I would probably just make my brother a pie. That said, I like the silverware as a gift. I love using the flatware I picked out on my wedding registry.

My check book register is off by at least $30 and chenge and I'm bummed about this as I have been diligent about recording every day and keeping a running total of the balance- every check, every atm withdrawal, debit transactions, auto payments. I'm curious if this is something I forgot to record or a transposed number. Despite this I'm actually looking forward to reconciling my checking account as opposed to just looking it over and saying "hmmm, looks about right."


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 Post subject: goals update
PostPosted: Sun Aug 03, 2008 10:17 am 

Joined: Sun Jun 01, 2008 10:13 am
Posts: 148
2008 goals: Finding balance

1. Debt pay off by September 26, 2008
Old BOA 860
LL Visa 780
Macy's 660
Total 2300
2. personal savings $46/1000
3. 401k 3%/ max out

Reconciled our joint account this morning and looking ahead through this month. I'm snowballing this month to get rid of BOA and most of LLVisa. BOA is at least three years of transferring balances from account to account. Instead of putting weekly $ into personal savings and oil/taxes accounts, I'm putting $ into paying down my debt. September I'm planning on playing catch up on oil/taxes and making a dent in Macy's. By my birthday in October I want to be current on all accounts, have a realistic weekly allowance that I can live with, and a plan for funding Christmas/ holidays spends. This would represent big progress for me.

Back to school, travelling to a family wedding, important birthdays are the red flag challenges this month that I can see and need to plan for creatively. Essential spending for gas, groceries, and walking around money is strictly cash only. Think. Plan. Think.


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 Post subject: Hard not to compare
PostPosted: Wed Aug 13, 2008 6:01 pm 

Joined: Sun Jun 01, 2008 10:13 am
Posts: 148
For the 7 hour trip home Monday night my husband bought one coffee and spent maybe $2. I bought drinks and snacks before we left and all the way home, including a fast food meal at the rest stop two hours from the house. I spent $17. (Yes, I shared snacks.) We were both exhausted from big social event packed weekend. His reaction was to minimize spending and overindulging after a decadent weekend of eating out. Mine was to stress eat my way home.

The whole weekend was like that. His indulgences for the weekend were things like sleeping in and running 8 instead of 18 miles on Sunday and the occasional sliver of cake or white bread. For him, those ARE big deal indulgences as he is training for a marathon in October and trying to lose 6 lbs.

The whole weekend for me felt like a sanctioned chance to indulge in EVERYTHING I felt like haven't done this summer: travel, family, friends, eating fancy foods, gifting, getting dressed up including manicure/haircut/makeup. Coming back from the trip is a huge letdown for me. (blah, my work and real life and I spent HOW MUCH altogether?) He's already back to his regular routine and he spent more or less, excluding gas and hotel, what he normally would have.

I'm sitting down doing damage control on my finances tonight again. It's hard not to compare and feel frustrated. I feel like this is another whiner post.


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 Post subject: Envy
PostPosted: Wed Aug 13, 2008 6:19 pm 

Joined: Sun Jun 01, 2008 10:13 am
Posts: 148
Yep. Envy. two more things. I love these people and they deserve the best as they have worked hard.

1. Co worker is leaving job she hates next week because she just figured out she could afford to get by with a part time job until her widower's pension kicks in next April.

2. My sister in law got an amazing book deal. Her first. It will pay for her children to go to a private college.

I gotta get crackin'.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Thu Aug 14, 2008 6:46 am 

Joined: Sun Jun 10, 2007 3:19 pm
Posts: 620
After a certain point, comparing yourself to other people can get really self-defeatig. But you know that. :)

That said, whining can be helpful to a certain point. It's definitely tough to come back from a trip to the regular grind, and then have friends who are doing so well. And then you get to feel guilty for feeling jealous!

Good luck!


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Thu Aug 14, 2008 11:01 am 

Joined: Tue Aug 05, 2008 3:22 pm
Posts: 548
Location: Northern CA
Ellie:

One thing to reduce the "spending bug" - write it down. I kept a post it on my CCard showing last month's balance when I was trying to get it paid down. It helped enormously.

I also would set things on HOLD and then walk away for an overnight "think it over" session. If I was still obsessing about the item after 3 days, I'd go back to get it.

Finally, I kept a "ledger" that assigned $$ to each of my longer-term goals in the savings account (rather than having multiple accounts). It was VERY EFFECTIVE to have to "withdraw" funds for the planned vacation trip if I overspent on clothing. The point - I couldn't just say "Oh, I went a little over-budget on clothing." I had to CONFRONT the fact that by overspending on clothing, I'd just delayed my vacation for a month, or I had to spend less on Xmas, or I had to go longer between hair appointments to make up the difference...

My point - impulse shopping is doing you NO FAVORS. Figure out a way to calm it down.

Sandi


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 Post subject: light at the end of the tunnel
PostPosted: Fri Aug 15, 2008 6:41 pm 

Joined: Sun Jun 01, 2008 10:13 am
Posts: 148
In the retail world we share a fantasy of quitting our jobs before the next holiday cycle. We were astonished when our co worker announced she was leaving next week and retiring early. She took on a second part time job last year "to keep a roof over her head" and we were under the impression she was living close to paycheck to paycheck. She was worried about future repairs to her house and an equity loan was out of the question. If she couldn't afford it now, how would she pay for it later? This was a woman who worked at the mall for 21 years and could count on one hand the number of times she left the store to actually see the rest of the mall. To say that she cultivated a "I don't spend because I don't have" persona would be an understatement.

I had an extremely pleasant conversation with her about getting by until her social security and pensions kicked in next April. Money has been tight for her over the years because she had been funding all of her saving accounts for vacation/taxes/oil/house repair/ holidays/car replacement etc. Last month she realized she had enough to sustain her current lifestyle without her regular salary. Wasn't long after that she decided to quit. She has excellent insurance from her former husband's job and is keeping her part time job because she loves it and wants to get to a dream vacation in Hawaii sooner. wow.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sat Aug 16, 2008 7:08 am 

Joined: Mon Feb 04, 2008 7:35 am
Posts: 1148
Location: Maryland
This story makes me sad. It's sad that someone who saves every dime, and can now quit her job is making up the "I'm so poor it's not even funny" lies to tell her coworkers instead of being proud that she has saved up enough to go to Hawaii and pay cash.

Why aren't more people proud of their savings accomplishments. If I ate peanut butter and jelly for two years so I could afford to go on a two year trip around the world, you better believe I would be telling everyone how I did it, and not feel ashamed.

Interesting post, nonetheless.


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