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Viewing the 'Budget Planning' Category

Discretionary purchase today--MP3 player

May 20th, 2006 at 01:02 pm

I've been thinking about this for months, and finally took the plunge, for many reasons.

There was a good deal at Staples for the model I'd been thinking about, but with much more storage than I'd ever hoped for. It came to a little over $58. Creative MuVo TX FM with 1GB of storage.(Thank you Fatwallet!)

This model should work with the downloadable audio books they have at the library where I work. (Not all models do.) It has a voice recorder, which I'd thought about buying separately for a long time anyway. You can also store data on it, so it will take the place of a USB thumb drive, which I've thought about too.

It is also a lot cheaper than getting involved with a broadband bill every month, or satellite radio. My dialup is still ok for most things, but lately for downloading radio shows it's been awful. It's supposed to be 56K but often it's been in the 30's or even 20's. This way I'll be able to download podcasts and radio shows on my dinner hour at work, and have enough to listen to for days. It should be quite a time-saver over the way I've been trying to do it.

It also may give me some brownie points at work (which one can always use). Wink My boss is disappointed that not many people are using the audiobook service. But it's hard for us on the staff to talk it up and give people instructions, if we've never used it ourselves. So in a way, I could classify part of the cost as a work expense. Wink

I'm holding off on the leafblower for now, and will use part of the Ace gc for poison ivy killer, which is a necessity right now.

Catching up on odds and ends

May 18th, 2006 at 12:48 pm

Cancelled YourMusic.com. I signed up through Inbox Dollars, and was glad to get a CD that DH wanted, for $5.99. But I don't need to be spending $5.99 every month on a CD right now.

Got $5.99 credited to the Citicard. I'd ordered stuff from Roaman's that turned out to be defective and dirty. Roaman's didn't charge me for the return shipment, but they refused to refund the shipping charge on the original order. I called Citi and said I didn't think I should be stuck with $5.99 when I'd gotten absolutely nothing. They were very nice about crediting my account.

Requested my Citi rewards check for $68.

Decided to lower the amount I'm paying to HSBC from $290 down to $250 a month. I thought I could afford the $290, but now that I figure in the lawn mowing, it's obvious I can't. The account won't quite be paid off by the end of the 0% period, but I don't mind paying $10 or $15 in interest for the final couple of months. Better than feeling strapped for the next 6 months.

Found out how getting a blood test works, under our new insurance.

Subscribed to the other Sunday paper on a half-price subscription sale. Their coupons are much better; it will be well worth it.

Went to Eckerd's last night for bargains; spent $11 after $9 in coupons were taken off.

Ordered another batch of Dealpass gc's. Only have a few more months to take advantage of these; don't want to lose the opportunity.

Almost finished putting our upcoming transactions in Quicken, through the end of the year. It really helps to see our cash flow ahead of time. If we're going to run short, better to see it coming and find a solution early on.

Quandary--how to budget for summer expenses

May 17th, 2006 at 05:25 pm

I have a routine now for expenses that come up once a year, or even 4x a year like our property taxes. Money goes into a specific account monthly or weekly, all year round. I set up the automatic deduction once, and I only have to change the amount if the bill goes up. The beauty of it is, I don't have to remember to do anything, or have the discipline to get the money in there every time.

Looking at our upcoming cash flow, I realized things are going to be tight in our main checking account all summer. Why? Mainly, lawn mowing expenses.

This is a different kind of bill--it's around $80 a month for six months of the year, then there's no bill at all for six months. In addition, the bill hits at just the time of year we'd also like to take care of outside projects and go on day trips.

There's got to be some simple way to even these expenses up throughout the year, but I haven't quite figured it out yet. I DO know I don't want to have to remember to set up automatic deductions for six months, stop them, and restart them again.

$45 more a month, burning a hole in my pocket

April 6th, 2006 at 06:49 am

My 2nd, smaller raise of the year starts this month. It's for "longevity" and starts now because it's my anniversary month. In my last job, we got this kind of bonus in a lump sum once a year. But here, it's just added onto your pay each week. It will come to about $30 a month.

I also found out the budget billing for our electric is going down by $15 a month.

I was >>THIS

Car inspection, and gift cards

April 4th, 2006 at 06:51 am

These are my little money tasks for the day.

I haven't posted about this before, but I'm doing something different with the the PNC account I opened awhile back. I found out I could split the direct deposit of my paycheck, so I now have $140 a week going into the PNC account. That's just enough to cover the Everyday Expenses budget, the newspaper subscription and Netflix.

My current Everyday Expenses cycle is over on April 8, and there isn't much left in the budget. But there IS money left in the PNC account, because part of the spending was from Petsmart gift cards. So I'm using part of the extra cash to buy more discounted gift cards, which will help even more cash build up in the account. Kind of a snowball effect.

It's car inspection month for me, and I think I'll get it done this morning. I'm anxious to do the Netbank checking account offer for $75, but they want you to keep a $500 balance for at least a month. Before I tie up that money, I want to know how much I might have to spend to get the car up to snuff.

Dad's Hidey Hole

March 22nd, 2006 at 10:07 am

I keep running across the idea of having a little secret cash tucked away in the house, in the sugar bowl or whatever. The experts say to have it for emergency preparedness, in case of a hurricane or the bird flu. It was mentioned in the book "How to hide money from your husband," as something wives have done for generations, partly to protect themselves if husbands leave or die. Generally, it seems to be a way of protecting against some dire emergency. A good thing to have, but not a very happy thing, and about as exciting to save for as a root canal. So I haven't done anything about it.

Well, I finally remembered that my dad kept a little something hidden away, and it was a much more cheerful affair. It was his Hidey Hole. I asked my mother about it recently, and even she never knew where the hiding place was! I'm sure my parents relied on it for little emergencies, unbeknownst to me. But it was also used for treats and unexpected opportunities. If the ice cream truck was coming, Dad might go into the bedroom, shut the door, and retrieve ice cream money from the Hidey Hole. If I had the chance to go somewhere that I couldn't afford on my allowance, I might be handed some money from the Hidey Hole. I have the feeling it was Hidey Hole money he took to rummage sales in case there was a deal too good to pass up. For years, he got a kick out of using an electric frying pan he'd bought for a quarter. Wink In other words, it was a fund for the unexpected, whether good or bad.

I think there's enough extra cash coming in right now that I can start my own Hidey Hole. Just calling it that gives me a warm, fuzzy feeling. And deciding it can also be used for fun things has made it a much more attractive idea, too. Current balance $40; where it is--not telling! Wink

Progress and frustration

January 8th, 2006 at 10:59 am

Have gone an entire week with no credit card purchases.

The HSBC card arrived, as did the balance transfer into our checking. I've scheduled payoffs on the other cards.

DMom gave me my birthday cash, and it was higher than previous years. For once, I don't feel like I need it desperately for anything and am going to put it right into the emergency savings account. I was playing around with the tax estimator thing Baselle posted, and it looks like we might owe this year. It would be nice to know enough money is sitting there, ready.

We're building up quite a credit on our electric co. budget billing. We should have one or two months with no bill this spring, plus the monthly amount after that should go down. A nice surprise.

It's the last week of my 4-week budget, and I still have money for Everyday Expenses. Smile Looks like I might finally come in at or below my 4-week goal for the first time.

Now for the frustrations. I guess I need to develop some philosophy about when to declare an issue dead, and just give up on it. And when to keep pushing so as not to lose money or a service I'm entitled to. Right now, I'm dealing with several ongoing problems that could use up several hours a day, if I let them.

--Pioneer Telephone. Still waiting for long distance service. Called the state board of public utilities, and am playing telephone tag with the person who takes complaints. How much more time should I waste making phone calls that result in nothing? What I'm thinking of doing is this: Use up the

Goals for next four weeks

December 21st, 2005 at 07:08 am

Besides spending a few hours yesterday obsessing about what will happen at the end of the 0% periods on our credit cards, mostly what I've been thinking about on the money front is what my next set of goals should be. Here it is 4 days in, and I still haven't decided.

--For sure, I'll aim to keep our grocery expenses to a minimum, and try again to say within the USDA's Thrifty Plan.

--For sure, I'll try to exercise 8x. And to try and leave enough time for that, I'm going to reduce my reading goal to 6 books over the 4 week period. 1-1/2 books a week is still more than I was doing for a long while.

--I thought I'd say I wanted to do one deal a week, whether it be a bank offer, a rebate or whatever. Then I thought back and realized I'm probably doing more than that now. Just this week, I mailed off two rebates already and am ready to do some bank deals.

I guess what I really want is to try and pace myself on doing them. I want and need to do quite a few, but at a steady pace. I don't want to get overwhelmed. Sometimes I do a flurry of them, which ends up taking more time than it should in one particular week. And following up on them... Maybe what I need to do is LIMIT myself to no more than x number, to force myself to concentrate on the most profitable ones. Maybe what I'll do this 4-week period is just track what I'm doing, to get a baseline figure.

So far:
1--Mailed Mazda test drive form (for $25 Supercertificate)
2--Mailed in Clairol Root Touch-Up rebate ($4.99)

I also want to try and cut down on so many separate shopping trips, but again, I don't know off the top of my head how many is too many. Maybe I can make a count of separate stops, looking back in Quicken.

Happy Winter Solstice to all--what a relief to know the days will start to get longer now. I've had enough of winter, and it's only starting!




2006 Cash Flow Planning

December 4th, 2005 at 08:10 am

While DH slept in this morning, I got the urge to work on our budget while I was fresh and the house was still quiet.

I usually have our usual income and expenses entered a month or so ahead of time in Quicken, just to make sure we aren't going to run short. It was time to do at least January, but since I was in the mood I just kept going. April is going to be our next really tight month--only 2 paychecks each, no interest income, and property taxes due on May 1. So I plotted everything out through the beginning of May.

The main thing I saw was that I wouldn't be able to put as much against our cc debt as I'd hoped. At the end of April, when I transfer the remaining balance on the Discover card over to the Sony, it's still going to leave us with a balance of about $3000. That's still a big improvement, though, and I'll just have to be satisfied with it.

The way paychecks and bills fall, between now and May 1, our checking account balance will range from about $2.50 to $2027.00. So if I pay ahead too much on the cc's when the checking balance looks healthy, I'll end up having to charge things later on, or go into savings. (I've allocated $977 between now and May 1 to go into savings for emergencies.)

The other thing I decided was, starting in 2006 I'm going to stop using the Citi card for groceries and such, just to earn the rewards. It's been a hassle trying to keep track of how much in checking has to be reserved to pay the Citi bill off each month. And the bill often turns out to be higher than I'd planned. I've kept doing it because it was the only rewards option I had. But now I have the PNC account with Visa debit card rewards. I might as well use it. Starting this week, 2 weeks at a time of grocery/gas/pet food money is getting put into PNC, leaving the Commerce account for bill-paying. I feel like I've worked myself free from a trap. Smile