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A place for Get Rich Slowly readers to ask questions
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 Post subject: Feeling Accomplished
PostPosted: Sat Oct 25, 2008 12:05 pm 

Joined: Sat Oct 25, 2008 11:33 am
Posts: 8
I've been reading GRS for months now and I'd like to say it's really helped me concentrate on changing my mind set towards finances. Two things in the past two years helped me frog-leap over the disasterous way I spent money.

Just over 18 months ago I was truly blessed by receiving an inheirentance from my always absent father. He and my mother divorced when I was 3 and I didn't see him again until I was 39. Long story short, he left me $55K. I was able to pay off all my school loans, my credit card debt, purchase a nused car and purchase my dream car ('95 Miata convertible - RED! :D ) and make improvements to my house so that was in shape enough to get married (for the second time) in my now gorgeous backyard. He basically let me hit the "reset" button on my finances.

The second thing that happened was attending Dave Ramsey's event in Portland. My mom and dad paid for me to go. I had just paid off all the stuff above and the Dave Ramsey plan put in motion what I needed to do from that point.

I have a large (to me) mortgage from the 4 re-finances I've done over the past 7 years, currently $204K @ 5.75%. (All of them for a "good reason".) I have $1500 in CC debt. I've accumulated $5,000 in an ING Direct account (boo-hoo to the 2.75% change!) I have $1,000 emergency fund. And I have another $2,000 I want to put into Vanguard index funds in the next month. I have $100 a week automatically transferred to ING, I pay $200 over my monthly mortgage P&I, and I just signed up for putting $200 a paycheck into deferred compensation bringing my automatic "savings" each month to $1,000. I have a very secure career (read government job) and make a very nice living.

My problem is feeling like I'm not doing enough. I've changed my habits to good in some areas, but I've slipped into bad habits in other areas. When I got promoted two months ago I started driving a lot more and paying for parking on a daily basis. I eat out a lot. My husband and I love to eat out and drink as a form of entertainment. I have kids I give allowance to and they spend it as soon as they get it ($80 per month on the first and they don't get a penny more until the next month, this includes their lunch money for school) so I feel like a failure in that regard cuz they just don't seem to be "getting it".

I need help setting goals. I need help talking with my husband about his finances (ours are completely separate). I need help steering myself in the right direction. I think I'm slowly getting there - and I hope keeping this finance journal will help.

Thanks for reading!

PShizzo


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PostPosted: Sat Oct 25, 2008 1:29 pm 

Joined: Mon Feb 04, 2008 7:35 am
Posts: 1140
Location: Maryland
Hi and welcome.
I'm glad you posted. :)

Even though your inheritance kind of let you out of your financial troubles the easy way, you are still on the right track and trying to make progress.

I question your $5000 in savings with ING but your $1500 credit card debt. Why don't you pay that off, so you aren't racking up interest charges. Maybe you do pay it off every month, but you didn't state that.

Do you talk to your kids about their allowance? I'm glad that they don't get a penny more after the first of the month, but maybe now is the time that you should talk to them about budgeting, and perhaps give them $20/week and see what they do with it instead of $80 at the beginning of the month. Are they working for their allowance, or you just give it to them because you're a nice mom? I guess if it's just because you're nice, that's probably why they don't "get it."

Once you got your promotion, why did you start driving more? I don't really understand how the two relate. When I get raises, I increase my savings automatically, and live off the same amount I did initially. Nothing changes except the amount I put into my savings account.

A good first step is to find out where your money goes. Once you see where you're spending, you can set up a budget. No one's first budget is ever perfect, but after you see how you are doing, you can revise your budget to fit your needs, and then it will be a lot easier to manage your money. If you like going out to eat, put that in the budget.

Looking forward to hearing your progress reports.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sun Oct 26, 2008 9:38 pm 

Joined: Sat Oct 25, 2008 11:33 am
Posts: 8
The CC debt will only take two more paychecks to pay off. I'd rather do that then bust my "magic number" of $5K. I've never saved up that much before and I'd really like to get it to $10K next year. Hey! I think I just found a goal?

I give my kids allowance without any strings attached. They're supposed to pay for school lunches which is $2 per day ($10 a week) and $10 a week for anything they desire. So I don't think the amount is out of line, its just that they NEVER have any when they really want it. That's pretty hard to stand up against when they're starting to have a meltdown in the middle of a store...but I'm getting a reputation for being "hard on us." In reality - I think they're spoiled rotten. :P

At the same time, I'm teaching personal responsibility towards family contribution. They each have a list of chores done daily/weekly. There are consequences for not following through with the chores, but they are not tied to allowance in any way. (Take away computer time/cell phone/Wii, etc.)

Before my promotion I lived 10 minutes from work where there was no parking charge. Now, I have to drive downtown where they charge for parking. I have put my increase into savings - that's how I'm adding $200 a check to deferred comp.

I use Mint.com to track my expenses and income so I pretty much know where things are going -- and I have a rough budget (a feature of Mint - it will e-mail me when I've gone over an expense for the month) I just feel...I don't know, like I could be doing more? Is saving $1000 a month too much? If I keep up what I'm doing, then between age being on my side and job funded retirement, I'm completely on track to retire very comfortably.

I'm getting some ideas for goals.

Increase emergency fund to $16500 (currently $1000)
Start investment fund. I have decided on a Vanguard traditional IRA. (I have $2k to do this right now)
Continue automatic investing to ING. Decide on a dollar amount at which to transfer funds to investment vs. savings.
Learn! I feel like there's so much to grasp before jumping into this! :shock:


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 Post subject: Quick Update
PostPosted: Tue Oct 28, 2008 10:13 am 

Joined: Sat Oct 25, 2008 11:33 am
Posts: 8
Okay - just paid off one CC. The other has a balance of $775 and I'll pay that off next month - then NO MORE! :lol:


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Tue Oct 28, 2008 10:22 am 
Moderator

Joined: Wed Mar 05, 2008 12:04 pm
Posts: 793
Congrats and keep up the good work!


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 Post subject: Re: Quick Update
PostPosted: Tue Oct 28, 2008 7:27 pm 

Joined: Sun Jun 10, 2007 3:19 pm
Posts: 620
PShizzo wrote:
Okay - just paid off one CC. The other has a balance of $775 and I'll pay that off next month - then NO MORE! :lol:


w00t!


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Fri Nov 07, 2008 4:00 am 

Joined: Wed May 02, 2007 6:52 am
Posts: 169
Location: Seattle
It depends a little on how old your kids are, but maybe you could do some kind of 'enforced' savings? Next time one of them spits the dummy, give them the money, then take it out of their next 'paycheque'. (Although you'd want to explain this in advance). Or if they regularly ask for $20 of extras a month, keep $20 back from the allowance at the beginning of the month, and explain that this is their 'savings' for stuff they want while out with you.


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 Post subject: Frugal Christmas
PostPosted: Thu Nov 20, 2008 11:24 am 

Joined: Sat Oct 25, 2008 11:33 am
Posts: 8
I've decided that I'm going to make Christmas presents this year instead of buying them.

Which is ironic because this year I can actually AFFORD to buy things! But then I'd be recovering financially for at least two months. (By recovering I mean saving extra up for the months Nov/Dec that I didn't sock away $ but spent on gifts.)

My husband makes delightful smoked salmon so everyone is getting a gift of that. The parents/grandparents LOVE the stuff too. I'm working on crossstitch holiday decorations. I bought the kits on sale, off-season years ago and just rediscovered them in my closet. (There's another benefit of de-cluttering one's life! Finding things you can use!)

I also just found a "How To" on the 'Net for making individual size pies in glass jars. (They're on http://www.NotMartha.org). After the topic of Christmas presents on JD's GRS I stumbled upon these little delights and I can't wait to try them. I might actually get brave and have the kids help too! :P

I have been purchasing things here and there for people (mostly the hubby and kids) but I'm writing everything down ALONG with the cost. This way I'll know all season how much I'm spending. My goal is to keep it under $500. That's shipping to grandparents, ingredients and kits for handmade gifts, cards, supplies - everything. Maybe I'll post where I'm at with all of it - anyone interested? (I'll just keep it all on paper if not.)


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Thu Nov 20, 2008 2:12 pm 

Joined: Mon Oct 20, 2008 6:25 pm
Posts: 28
I am totally interested, I am keeping a Christmas budget spreadsheet this year, its hard but I know I cannot spend more than I budget. I also am making a few gifts, so I am going to head over and find out about these pies!!


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Thu Nov 20, 2008 5:07 pm 

Joined: Sat Oct 25, 2008 11:33 am
Posts: 8
Those little pies look so darn cute!! Of course I'll have to make some "test" ones first! :D


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 Post subject: Initial Xmas Costs Tracking
PostPosted: Mon Nov 24, 2008 11:30 am 

Joined: Sat Oct 25, 2008 11:33 am
Posts: 8
Christmas 2008
Husband - 83.00
Child 1 - 8.00
Child 2 - 21.00
Child 3 - 23.00
Mom & Dad - 44.00
Grma & Grpa - 40.00
Aunt & Uncle -
Grma2 -
Brother & Wife -
Neice & Nephew -
BIL & Wife -
MIL & FIL -
BIL2 - 24.00
Best Friend Ever -

All told, I've spent 243.00 already. The amounts above are for items I already have "in hand". Most of it I purchased before I had a clear idea of what I was spending for Christmas. Would I have done anything different if I had planned on an amount from the beginning? Probably...my husband doesn't really need a t-shirt from his all-time favorite band - but its become sort of a tradition. I surprised him with one once and he was so absolutely ecstatic that I've done a repeat of the theme every year since. I also ALWAYS get him a DVD he really wants (generally only available directly from the artist and therefore a bit more than a "regular" DVD would be), a good bottle of Scotch and a new sweater. Just like I ALWAYS get the kids a movie, a giant candy cane and my husband always gives them a Life-Saver book.

I guess I could rethink these "gift traditions" I have but 1.) I've already purchased some of the traditional gifts (and they're cool so I'm NOT sending them back!LOL) and 2.) Its easy to create nice tokens for people you don't see very often, but giving a meaningful gift from the heart for those you live with would take much more planning and creating than I have right now - especially when it comes to the kids.

This weekend I spent $38 at Michaels craft store for paints and glue and other things needed to finish up the ornament gifts I'm giving my family. We also bought salmon at Costco to smoke at roughly $43. Husband found all the ingredients at home to make the marinade but he'll still have to buy wood chips for the smoker. When I have the final amounts I'll add them to the above.

My goal is to keep spending under $400 for all members of the family outside of the immediate household; spend about $125.00 more each on Child 2 and Child 3 and I'm done for my husband except one more item. Its a very high-priced item so I might put a down payment on one and promise him I'll make the rest of the payments for him and he'll get it eventually. Child 1 just had a birthday last week and I bought her a combo B-day/Xmas present that was 250.00 (ASUS eeeMachine - a 7 in. Internet laptop; wicked cute, she LOVED it and I got a great deal on it on Amazon) so she knows she's not getting much more from us. I'm kind of rushing through this right now, I'll have to sit down and really go over my numbers later. I can tell my $400 might be off already because I need to factor in shipping costs.

Thanks for reading! :D


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Mon Nov 24, 2008 12:23 pm 

Joined: Sun Apr 29, 2007 8:11 am
Posts: 1083
Location: Sunny Florida
Having a plan and a budget for the holidays is a great way to have a stress free season. This will be our second year of working a holiday budget/plan using our ING subaccount to pay for the whole thing. We put money aside during the year so when the holidays come around we already have our holiday budget set aside.

We do Christmas wreathes for each family in our circle (6 $155), gifts to the kids (4 $300-400), holiday cards for everyone on our full list (which can run $100-$200), my husband and I sponsor a needy family as our Christmas gift to each other ($200), home made cookies for the neighbors ($50), gifts for my secretary and close co-worker friends/boss (4 $100). Last year our budget was $1200 (this year its the same but I'm hoping for under $1100) Right now my total is $1105. I also collect gifts during the year when I see the perfect item for family or friends but I don't count those gifts in my holiday budget and if I don't have a gift for someone in my gift closet when the holidays roll around I don't go out and buy a gift. I just like to distribute all my "perfect" gifts during the holiday season.

_________________
Sam

http://adventures-of-sam.blogspot.com
(Follow Sam's financial and real estate adventures.)


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 Post subject: Xmas Budget Update - new #s in bold
PostPosted: Mon Dec 01, 2008 5:03 pm 

Joined: Sat Oct 25, 2008 11:33 am
Posts: 8
Christmas 2008
Husband - 83.00
Child 1 - 8.00
Child 2 - 21.00
Child 3 - 23.00
Mom & Dad - 44.00
Grma & Grpa - 40.00
Aunt & Uncle -
Grma2 -
Brother & Wife - 114.00
Neice & Nephew -
BIL & Wife - 3.00
MIL & FIL - 3.00
BIL2 - 24.00
Best Friend Ever - 21.95

I never went out for Black Friday - I never do. I spent the weekend at home finishing three of four cross-stich presents.

I did surf quite extensively making sure I was getting the best deal. I bought a 1TB HD for my brother and his wife. They take TONS of pictures with their digital camera - and leave it all on the camera. Seriously, I think he went out and bought a 32 GB SD card that fit his camera and every single shot he's taken in 2.5 years is still on there. I think 114.00 was a great deal. (On-lne at Fry's Outpost.)

My BFE is a Jeep nut and I found a seat belt belt with a real-live Jeep seat belt buckle for her to wear around while she works. Yep, she's gonna love it. Yep, she's an odd duck. Yep, I totally love her forever!

I've spent about 80.00 on supplies for smoked salmon and ornaments. Not necessarily at the same store. :D

So far - so good!


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 Post subject: Whoopee!!
PostPosted: Fri Dec 05, 2008 9:18 am 

Joined: Sat Oct 25, 2008 11:33 am
Posts: 8
Very small thing maybe, but I just got the first paycheck stub with deffered comp taken out yesterday. $200 a paycheck...and I didn't even miss it!

Found the perfect gift for Child 2 on sale, on-line for only $65.00 including shipping. She's going to be so excited.

Just need the husband's last thing and Child 1 and 3 finished and I'm done.

We usually have a Christmas party every year. With the new job taking all my mental strength, I decided not to have one this year. My friends have been asking about it - and they understand - but I must have saved myself $300 - $400 on that alone! I was shocked when I went through and added it all up. I'd like to do it again next year but I need a new model, OR I need to just decide to do it the same way and budget for it.

Happy Holidays!

P.


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