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OMG, the extra hours start now!

October 16th, 2006 at 06:54 pm

I haven't gotten my mind around it yet, but I'll be glad to see some additional money coming in sooner than I'd thought.

First item of business: pay the &#@%$^ credit card off by the end of the year, as originally planned, instead of stretching it out to the end of the 0% period in March.

I'll have to do some number-crunching again; I want to try and fit within the All Your Worth recommendations. But tentatively our plans include upping DH's 401K contribution and me rejoining the gym.

Spending like crazy

December 12th, 2005 at 07:26 am

I guess that's why I haven't been posting--it's kind of embarrassing to have to post about doing so much discretionary spending, when everyone else seems to have their spending under good control.

There's something about this season that makes me spend on things I've been putting off. Something about facing the fact that if I need or want something, I'd better get it for myself because no one else is apt to get it for me. DH isn't much of a shopper, and DMom just can't do much shopping anymore. Also something about the year ending, a new one about to start, and what I'm just not willing to put up with or do without for another year. I think it also has to do with reading All Your Worth. Yes, I want to reduce our Must Haves, but a big reason you are supposed to do this is so you have more money left for Wants. It kind of makes me feel justified in spending a bit.

I'm not giving in to ads and displays for things I never wanted before. It's basically things that will make life easier, or more efficient, or less shabby, that I've come up with on my own. I'm trying to get the best prices I can, and use the gift cards I already have on hand.

Here's some of the stuff I've bought recently:

--Pajamas for both DH and I (to support our goal of keeping the heat at 66 at all times) - about $32

--Commuter mugs for both DH and I (to preserve our clothes and car upholstery, now that it's hot coffee season again) $23.98

--Sheets (The fabric of the bottom sheet in the one set we have has started to split. I'll try to repair it, but I'm only going to count on it as a spare) $24.99 and extra pillowcases $7.34 before I knew I'd need a whole new set of sheets.

--A fax/copier machine (Something that would have come in handy several times in the past. The clincher was that our car insurance agent merged and moved to an office about 45 minutes away. Getting something there in a hurry would now be a big problem, and the closest public fax machine is at a liquor store. Something weird about handing personal info over to a liquor store clerk!) $30 after rebate

--New coupon organizer (I was trying to cram too much into my $1 paper one, and it tore pretty badly. I couldn't find another one for $1. In fact the exact same paper one would have been over $6 shipped on Ebay. So I went for a fancier thing called a Coup-O-Dex for just a little more. More about this in another post.) $8.54

--Dixie cup dispenser for kitchen (Dishes are always a problem around here.) $4.76

--Space heater. $21.17

--Bubble shipping envelopes in bulk. (Got tired of trying to get to Walgreens when they are on sale, finding them out of stock, or having to run to several stores to get enough) $16.85

--Red velvet-looking lint removers (a replacement for one I had before, that was great on dog hair. Saves pulling out the vacuum to get hairs off living room furniture). About $6 at Target for a combo pack of mitt and thing with handle.

Gotta go....

Two monkeys off my back

November 16th, 2005 at 07:46 am

I just took some money out of savings, and scheduled payments to pay off the homeowner's insurance I've been paying in installments, and the Firestone bill. I also cancelled $70 worth of automatic monthly savings deposits into ING. This still leaves me with $1500 in what was our "new car account," that can actually be used for emergencies if need be.

To get our debts paid off, I now realize that I simply can't afford to sock away as much into goal savings as I was trying to. If I continued doing that, I'd keep being short on cash to pay current expenses and emergencies, and I'd keep charging them. Paying off our debts completely is one of the few ways I can adjust our All Your Worth "must haves" category so I'm more motivated than ever to get them paid off. (They count minimum payments on ccs as a must have.)

It's like Frugal Laura In Texas just said--it makes you feel good to see that money sitting in ING, but if your cc balance is going up, too, you are just fooling yourself about getting ahead.

All Your Worth

November 15th, 2005 at 05:20 am

Somebody - Jorge? - mentioned a book I hadn't heard of, "All Your Worth" by Warren and Tyagi. I found it at my library, and boy is it an eye-opener. I've been through it 3 times so far--Skimmed it while half-asleep, before bed one night. Read through it thoroughly, taking notes, another day. Now I'm using the index to try and find answers to questions I've had while starting to do their calculations. I can definitely second the recommendation that it's a good read.

To sum up, they recommend no more than 50% of your income on must-haves, 20% towards a combination of savings and debt repayment, and 30% on wants. I found a nice little Excel spreadsheet to download that calculates your percentage of Must Haves. It's about 3/4 of the page down, here: http://www.mdmproofing.com/iym/BMF.shtml

Obviously, food is a Must Have. But they say to allocate only a small, basic amount for food in the must-have category, because a lot of what we normally buy is really non-essential, or bought in a form that's more expensive than it needs to be. But they didn't really give much of a guideline, like a percentage of income. So I pulled my food figure from the USDA guidelines for the lowest budget for a 2-person household. You can find guidelines for various budget levels and household sizes here: http://www.usda.gov/cnpp/FoodPlans/Updates/foodnov04.pdf

They include predictable household, medical and transportation costs in Must Haves, but it looks like they mean for emergencies like car repairs and such to be handled out of the 20% savings. So my must-have figure below doesn't count any of the $461 a month we've been hit with recently for various repairs.

Our current Must Haves are at 65.2% of our income. That falls into their Must-Have Crash Zone--the absolute worst category. Their description of our situation is accurate: "Even the smallest hiccup can seem like a major disaster because there is no extra money to handle anything that goes wrong. You shot through the Danger Zone many warning lights ago, and now you are deep in the highest risk area--the Crash Zone."

Now I did figure in a few things that some people wouldn't call Must Haves. DH and I cannot physically mow our own lawn anymore, so I included the expenses for our lawn guy. I also included our Virgin Mobile cell phones, because we both drive old cars, and I drive home from work several nights a week. I'm just not going to put myself in a position where I have to walk to a call-box along a highway at night, where people are driving 65 mph. It's the cheapest cell option I could find, and I consider it a necessity. OTOH, I also included every bit of income we've been getting, such as rebates, cash gifts. Amazon sales, and so forth. So I think overall the 65.2% gives a pretty accurate, if dismal, picture of where we are.