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Budgeting and Debt

June 22nd, 2011 at 08:46 pm

Still plucking along with our budget spreadsheet...we started using a rigorous budget in January of this year and it has made a world of difference in our money management process. I was never really against a budget but I've never been taught to use one or even how to use one so I just assumed I was budgeting by balancing a checkbook and 'seeing' where my money was going. LOL -- that was clearly a massive failure b/c I was only 'seeing' my money fly out the window! Anyway, we are doing good and I am proud of our progress. We've been able to get serious about paying off debt and we've paid off everything except the cars and house. I am hoping to have 2 of the cars gone by next year but this topic keeps me on the fence. I am all for selling my car but my husband is not sold on the idea. He did drive the beater car for a couple of years and was sick of the 'issues' that come with a beater car. We aren't the type of people who need to have 'nice' cars but he would rather pay for them if we can, and not buy new again. Sigh....I'm more interested in getting that debt gone quicker so we continue to go back and forth on this topic.

Anyway, I am the planner and worrier of the family so this is something that throws a wrench in my budgeting plans. The fact of the matter is we could be getting our 6 month EM in place much sooner and begin saving/investing for retirement much sooner as well if the cars were gone now. I am 34 so I feel like I have to have these things firmly in place by the time I'm 35 and that just isn't going to happen until I'm closer to 36. I feel 'behind' and that is what is unsettling. He hasn't said "NO" don't sell your car but he is more concerned with us having to come up with the negative balance to pay off the loan (it is upside down) and find/buy an older car...and then deal with the older car issues that are inveitable. We would still have to get a loan to do that and while that is not ideal, we would be trading a higher car loan for a much smaller loan. I would be willing to do it - the new loan would probably be around $10-$12K (including buying a replacement car) and I could probably pay that off in a couple months.

I'm going to keep 'gently' discussing the topic -- but not nag him about it. He gets annoyed with me for worrying about our finances. He is onboard with doing the right thing with our money but he thinks I'm hyper-sensitive about the situation and impatient....which is true. I do need to relax and be patient...find more peacefulness and tranquility in my life. Stop worrying about 'stuff' and the future and whether or not we will be 'saving & investing' by the time I'm 35 LOL. These are normal things that I should be concerned about but I can't let them dominate my life and thoughts.

So I've already started making 'people edits' in my life and now I'm going to start making 'thought edits' as well. I will spend a small amount of time each day tending to our finances but I will no longer keep it on the brain and harass my husband about it regularly! :-) He loves me -- he knows it!!

And by the way -- I'm a relatively new blogger on this website and I was under the impression it was supposed to be about saving money, reducing debt, paying stuff off, etc., etc. Why are people on here talking about applying for credit cards and buying stuff using their credit cards? That is just strange to me...? Not judging -- to each his own, but it is strange given the context of this website...? agreed?

My budget smokes crack...sometimes.

June 5th, 2011 at 07:52 pm

Just went through my budget (for the 100th time) b/c as I'm busy doing something during the day, I will think of tweaking this or moving that to improve cash flow & savings, etc.

Well, today I was happily rearranging stuff and I started looking at my 'savings' tab on my spreadsheet that is linked to the budget tab. Turns out I had some of my formulas messed up and I won't be saving as much as I planned for 2011!! So frustrating and disheartening....I had planned to get some major debt paid down with the money I was saving and now that will not be possible until more like early 2012.

With that annoying find today, I started thinking about ways to make some extra money to supplement our income. My husband is already got stuff lined up to bring in some extra money this summer but now I think I will need to find something to do too.

Does anyone have any ideas -- I might be able to pull off another garage sale but I'm not holding my breath on that being ultra productive. We have construction in front of our house right now and the road is torn up -- folks have to "find" the detour to get to my drive way and I'm not sure if it would be a waste of time. Anyway -- any other thoughts from anyone out there in the blogosphere?

Easy on Paper, Harder in Real Life

June 4th, 2011 at 09:18 am

I do all my budgeting on paper and it appears to look/sound/smell/taste good but in real life it is a lot harder to make it work. I suspect it is b/c I'm not allocating enough money in addition to the fact that we ALWAYS have something pop up for that month. These little suprises have thrown my debt reduction plan off track b/c I'm regularly saving LESS to put towards debt. But I have a new plan now -- a 'take no prisioners' plan that will help me say NO b/c the money will NOT be there.

Original plan - stockpile money. I thought to save up about $3700 a month in my savings account to pay off the car in Sept/Oct timeframe -- in one lump sum. The problem is b/c that money is just 'sitting there' it is easy to pilfer from it. No more my friends -- that money will now go as a 'car payment' and it will be OUT of the JMONEY household system so we can no longer take $50 here, $100 there, etc.

I will only keep the $1,000 emergency fund and that will put things in very real perspective for me. You see, drastic measures are almost always necessary for me to get with the Gosh Darn plan that I put together.

wish me luck :-)

Stopping by for some friendly advice.

May 30th, 2011 at 09:51 pm

I've not posted in a while, I've been a busy girl! Things are going ok on the finance side but we've had quite the ordeal on animal side. I'll save that post for another time.

Question for all of you -- each pay period (2 per month) I load all my expenses into an excel file and pretty much budget my entire pay period. I have my standard house expenses - phone, water, electric, house payment...etc. Then I have a savings deduction and lastly I have cash allotments for food, church, gas, lunch money and a misc fund. I do a fairly good job of sticking to the budgeted plan but I do wonder if I'm loseing budget perspective when I start adding in stuff that we need that doesn't really fall into those categories...it is usually stuff like school pictures, vet bills, a dress for this or that, or SOMETHING...something always comes up. Does that mean you are falling off your budget or just budgeting those items into your budget?? I'm not sure if this is a stupid question but I do wonder if I'm doing this right...haven't really done the budget thing before so while I think I'm going OK, I do wonder if 'adding stuff' every month is normal or am I breaking the budget?

Royalty...

April 28th, 2011 at 10:08 pm

I am super exicited to watch the wedding festivities tomorrow! I am an American who is semi-obsessed with the British Royalty, especially Diana and her boys and now Kate! Apparently tomorrow and Monday have been declared as 'bank' holidays for the UK so people are off!! Must be nice -- I am definitiely envious! While I get 'tired head' when I think of the crowds that will be swarming London, I just MIGHT be tempted to join them to try & get a glimpse of someTHING or someONE royal. Good luck to those of you who will be in the crowds but more importantly, good luck to the young couple William & Kate...may your union be blessed by God Almighty :-)

Good night everyone, I have more to say on "good news & bad news" but I'm too tired tonight. Here's a hint: the good news is my budget is working, the bad news is my budget is working. more to come on that later.

The latest installment...

April 24th, 2011 at 08:30 pm

My sweet baby kitty is still missing. I'm beginning to doubt he will return home to us :-( We did post several MISSING signs around our small town with his cute little pic...but no one has called us. I just hope someone has decided to keep him rather than something bad happening to him. He's so dang cute and sweet, I would probably keep him too.

Moving on but not forgetting....evertything else is very busy this time of year. For some reason I didn't budget for easter goodies for the kiddos....I don't know why. I don't usualy spend a lot but it just sort of slipped my mind this year. So I had to dip into other budgeted items to cover the 'stuff' I picked up for the kids. We also have a lot of other expenses to cover this time of year...we find our selves in need of lots of dresses! We are a family of mostly girls but hardly any of us dress up on a regular basis so when we need something nice, we don't have a dress or shoes. So we needed something for easter that we could also wear to the sports banquet, something for the graduation 'Tea Party' my mother-in-law is hosting for my daughter and we also need something for the actual graduation. You might be asking, can't 1 dress cover all that...no, it can't. We shopped around, found some good deals and cute stuff they could use again. I'm fine with spending the money if it is good quality and can be versitile and used for other things. So not only do we have all these dress needs, we are also trying to prepare for 2 proms this year. The oldest DD has her high school prom and her boyfriend's prom who lives in another town. So we bought her dress for her HS prom but she borrowed a dress for the boyfriend's prom. Worked out pretty good and she's happy with both dresses...and I'm happy b/c I didn't have to refinance my house LOL.

Just kidding - I don't go nuts on stuff like this. I don't go 'cheap' either so I am all about shopping around & finding good deals online. I also don't mind spending the money on these dresses b/c I have 2 other daughters who may find they need a fancy dress some day....hopefully they will still be in style.

We are also in full 'getting ready for college' mode too -- or atleast I am. The DD is lucky enough to have a scholarshop to an awesome college but obviously there will still be some expenses to cover. According to my budget, I should be able to cashflow those expenses but we went ahead & filled out the FAFSA application to see if she could qualify for any other monies. Haven't heard anything back on that yet -- anyone out there have experience with FAFSA? Just curious how it will be handled...?

I'm off to bed now - hope you guys & gals have a good week :-)

the good, bad & ugly

April 10th, 2011 at 10:00 pm

hello, i've been away for a bit but i thought I would drop a quick note.

The good: The new $0 budget thing is working out pretty good - very easy to relax and not worry about my bank account or any transactions that my husband may have made but forgot to mention. We basically don't use the debit card at all now. The bills are paid using the BoA online payment feature (the only redeeming quality BoA has to offer) and I draw out cash for everything else, putting it in the envelops for the various expenses. TOTALLY helps me to spend less for sure b/c I'm more reluctant to let go of cash...which is weird b/c the money is coming out of the same place anyway. O-well, I've just noticed I'm less inclined to spend a few dollars here & there when you SEE the CASH DWINDLE...very good system for me. Glad I found it.

The bad: The lawn mower deck broke this weekend so we will have to spend so money to get it fixed. Why you say? b/c we have over 3 acres that we have to mow...can't just let it go crazy. Not really sure how much this will cost - the husband isn't sure if he can fix it himself either so we may be out parts + labor or at the minimum, just parts. who knows.

The ugly: I'm going to try & NOT paint my toe nails this summer. For some reason, my right big toe nail HATES toe nail polish and throws a big hissy fit every year. So this year I'm going to try & lay off the toe nail polish and that leaves me with ugly, boring toes. I'm not looking forward to you...and you shouldn't either. In fact, if any of you have any suggestions on "toe friendldy" or "sensitive toe" nail polish, I would pay some good money to hear it right about now....sooooo, speak up!!

have a good week everyone!! :-)

I got to talk to Dave Ramsey today!!

March 21st, 2011 at 09:36 pm

Well....I have been struggling back and forth with a financial question and I thought I would try to see if I could get in touch with Dave Ramsey on his radio show and I DID! I don't know why but I was so shocked when they answered my call and began to ask my question, name and location, etc. So I thought maybe they would do some kind of "question validation" to see if my question was worth putting on the air...and I guess it was b/c she said she was putting me on hold and would tell me when I was up next. My heart IMMEDIATELY went into crazy mode and I got SO nervous without even uttering one word to the guy. I was on hold for about 10 mins and my mind was racing about how I should best frame my question to him and how much detail I should share, etc. I had a pretty good idea of what he would recommend but I kinda wanted that validation anyway so the idea would LEAVE my head. My question is about cashflowing college tuition for my daughter this fall. Because I'm in the middle of my debt snowball and I still have some debt to pay off, an idea popped into my head to have her set up a student loan so we could defer the payments and then pay it all off after everything else. The thought process is to put that "cashflow tuition" money towards the debt instead of pulling it out of my snowball. But I couldn't fully rationalize it either way b/c I would be paying it off either way...just at different timeframes. Dave's recommendation was to go with my current plan and cashflow the tuition NOW so I don't run into issues later. I agree with this advise and will follow it...but it is tempting to put the extra $11,000 each year towards the SNOWBALL! Hopefully you are able to follow my explanation.

Anyway, I know he can be a little harsh sometimes on how people have gone into debt and WHAT was bought....I was scared to death he was going to ask me what kind of debt I had left. And with it primarily being car debt, I was so worried he was going to SCOLD ME and point out the fact that I would be the WORST MOTHER ALIVE if I 'borrowed' money to pay for my kid's education so I could have my stupid cars. I can honestly say "had I known then (when I got the cars) what I know now" I would never have purchased new cars. BUT we do have them, we are not interested in selling, getting a loan for the payoff difference AND then buying new "used" cars. We can make our payments today comfortably so the plan is to keep them, pay them off and not buy new again. For some reason I was terrified of explaining that plan to Dave...

Hope you are all having a great week - mine is off to a good start :-)

Garage Sale = Success!

March 19th, 2011 at 09:23 pm

Day 2 of the garage sale turned out to be very successfull! Overall made about $350 and got rid of a lot of stuff I did not need or want to keep around the house anymore....which is usually why people have garage sales LOL. What I found interesting is that I was not really wanting to spend it! My habits are changing (Angels are singing hallelua in the background)...we knew we were going to buy new wood trim to finish a project we've been working on but other than, I was not really interested is getting more 'stuff' so I'm kinda proud of myself!! MY HUSBAND...now he is a little different story. He was like, "should we get this..., do we need that...., are we going to replace that thing...." My comment back was no, no and no.

So there YOU go, nothing too exciting but I am happy to get my garage sale done, make some extra cash, get all of the trim work hung and caulked...I will paint tomorrow and hopefully put the final NAIL in this project coffin.

Other good news is that BUTLER UNIVERSITY pulled off another BIG WIN to make it to the SWEET 16! Yeahhh Bulldogs!! Amazing win, seriously...came down to the last 1.9 second. CRAZINESSS....but happy with the colossal win!

KINDA looking forward to getting back on the regular schedule with spring break coming to an end....but I will miss sleeping in a little later since I didn't have to shuffle kids to school in the morning. O-well, we're moving on...can't make progress unless you are moving on!

take care friends ;-)

Yippy Skippy!

March 18th, 2011 at 10:55 pm

We had a garage sale today and got lucky with beautiful weather! We didn't think we had much of anything anyone would be interested in -- the typical "junk" collection. Turns out people wanted about $100 of our stuff! I was pleasantly suprised and am encouraged to open it again tomorrow morning for a few hours. We even had someone ask us about our swing set which my daughter never uses anymore. It is one of those nice wooden swingsets we got at Sams a few years ago. The lady asked me if I would consider selling it and I said SURE! However I didn't know how much to charge LOL! So she is coming back tomorrow with her husband to look at it since he is the one who will be taking it down & putting it back up. I'm thinking maybe $300 but I don't know if that is too much or not...? I guess I'll find out in the morning. She was a nice lady and bought an old patio table set we've had lurking in our backyard for years now. I'm just glad to see that thing going bye-bye. If they take the swing set, that is a double YIPPY SKIPPY for me b/c I'll get the $300 extra bucks and no more weed eating around that swing set anymore! The money or effort wouldn't matter if my daughter still wanted and used the thing but she doesn't and we asked her what she thought about selling it and she said she didn't care....so I guess we will if they want to pay $300 or even $250 for it.

Anyway - happy trails pardner...this chickie is going to bed now :-)

hello $1950.00

March 17th, 2011 at 07:48 pm

I hit a major milestone (for me anyway) this past week by paying off my last credit card. I started in January with a student loan, an orthodontist note, a bank of america credit card and a southwest chase credit card -- all totally around $20K. I started my TOTAL MONEY MAKEOVER in January and let me tell you, I have been GAZELLE intense! I am super happy to report that I sent the last payment to the southwest chase card yesterday and I'm anxiously awaiting the balance to hit $0 so I can close down that card. Total debt paid off since January is $20,114.00

Now I'm moving on to tackle the car notes and much later on, our mortgage (according to Dave Ramsey's baby step plan). Now that the other debt is gone, I'll have an additional $1950 each month to put towards getting cars knocked out quickly!!

Having a garage sale this weekend so I'm hoping to make a little extra cash. We have a few lingering projects to do around the house and I haven't wanted to take money out of the budget to do it b/c I was so intent on getting that $20K gone by April. I'm glad I didn't get distracted b/c I was able to knock it out a full month early! Hoping to get maybe $200 or so....but I won't be heart broken if I don't. When I have garage sales, my main goal is to get rid of stuff rather than make money. Sooooo....wish me luck!