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Archive for January, 2014

January Goals Update

January 28th, 2014 at 09:52 am

OK, freezing here in the tundra of the Midwest, I've got reading/studying/crafting kids, a sick dog, and not a lot of motivation to do much. Got the taxes done yesterday (goal for the week).

Here is how we did for January:
* Did pay $1,500 to tuition
* Did pay $1,750 for February's mortgage (next due 3/15)
* Did stay within budget for utilities
* Did pay $1,000 for prepay property tax (scheduled to auto withdraw on Friday's payday)
* Did pay $875 to Traditional IRA for 2013 (as above, scheduled to auto withdraw on Friday)
* Did manage to open a Barclay's saving account with $25
* Did manage to keep my $100 from the beginning of the month (my grandma sends me $100 a month 'to use as needed') Anyhow, it is tucked away in the only surviving antique canister from some distant relative

I did manage to underestimate a long list of things: lenses, ink, pinewood derby supplies, tickets for the Father-Daughter dance, t-shirts for turnabout week for a charity, $50 for class ring deposit, $20 for a belt and dress pants for DH who remains tubby. *sigh*

Goals for Feb

[_] $2,000 for prepayment of real estate taxes from monthly income
[_] $4,980 for prepayment of real estate taxes from federal tax refund
[_] $500 for saving account for DH's educational expenses for upcoming year
[_] Stay on budget for living (gas/groceries)
[_] Stay on budget for utilities
[_] Manage to add $100 cash to canister

I am pleased that it is a short month. I am pleased that I am driving less. I will have the opportunity to make an additional $150 caring for my brothers' dogs when he is out of town. Not sure how to allot those funds.

Non-financial goals:

I am hopeful for more energy to get some bigger tasks done around the house (deal again with the dreaded basement). I would like to make it to the Y at least three times a week. I would like to have an accurate list of what the kids will need for spring and start looking at Goodwill for said items.

Stay warm for those in the bitter cold temps.

Federal and State Tax Refunds

January 27th, 2014 at 12:21 pm


Frigid weather allowed for us to be housebound, and I took the opportunity to do our taxes. (Not very complicated given 1 W-2, one statement for interest, mortgage interest, and student loan interest.

Our situation for refunds:

$4,981 for federal
$479 for state

Plan for funds:

Federal goes right to property tax prepayment

State: open separate account for DH's education expenses (anticipated $500 first year).

Feeling hopeful about our finances. Looking forward to end of week so I can do a monthly wrap-up.

Winsome and Lose Some

January 26th, 2014 at 10:12 am


Definition of winsome: cheerful and engaging.

I was most definitely NOT winsome this past week. Feeling more like myself today after a decent sleep and some alone time yesterday reading some light fluff. I've been immersed in "The Catcher in the Rye" with my 10th grader, and Greek mythology with my 6th grader. The 9th is reading "A Lesson Before Dying" which is pretty heavy, too.

DH has gained weight since he's been in the stressful position (started in July). He's not working out at all and while I've been cooking healthy, he's stress eating. He needed to look nice in business casual for a function today with his fraternal organization. He inherited a blue sport coat from my stepdad which works (if unbuttoned), but he grew out of his khakis. Thankfully, our Goodwill lets you return clothes that don't fit for a credit. 40s didn't fit. Embarrassment But I exchanged for 42s which worked (relief!). The cost was $4.99.

But then he needed a belt. I needed to grocery shop for a few items before the polar vortex returns later today. So I went to Target. His belt cost $14.99.

I suppose the lesson is you win some and lose some. I *am* happy for the $4.99 pants, and I did look at belts at the GW, but there wasn't the right size/color/style/condition.

I am hopeful that DH will lose some weight and move towards fit and healthy again, but not much I can do about his lack of motivation.

So, be theme for today is win some and lose some.

Hope everyone has a wonderful day. Stay warm and safe.

Pre Pay Day Post/Random Observations from the Limtied Income Life

January 16th, 2014 at 05:40 am


Well, this was the first pay period living on the post-employment budget. I managed to make it with $.25 in the account.

First, I had some "budget busters": contact lenses ($57) and printer ink. These ordinarily wouldn't have made a dent in the cash, but we started the pay period with a purchase of two new tires for DH's minivan ($189 at Walmart). Then the printer (that I just purchased the new ink for) died, had an Error Code associated with a paper jam. Stepdad took it home, disassembled, put it back together and it is working now. Crisis averted. So, I am figuring where and when to budget for those items in the future because the need for these items remains constant.

I am not disciplined enough to combine Week 1 and Week 2 funds. Back to cash in envelopes for specific weeks/categories. The last time I tried to do cash, I ended up having to raid all cash across all envelopes for a $385 car repair (brakes) back in November.

There will *always* be something. Saturday starts with another new tire for my minivan.

I can't be fretting over needed purchases. It's just not worth it. I did have to buy my daughter a copy of "Cather in the Rye". The $6.99 had microscopic print, so I opted to spend $15 and get her a book with much easier to read print.

My menu planning and grocery shopping wasn't as successful as I thought it would be. I am going back to the basics with one week at a time. We're eating at my parents' house on Saturday and I think Steak N Shake on Sunday (have a gift card) so it is really a matter of a few meals. Definitely one crockpot. We're eating more fresh produce which is more expensive, and my husband is using his Vitamix (hand me down from MIL) with more regularity. The favorite drink so far is sweet potato/apple/banana/milk/honey/nutmeg. Even my pickiest of eaters like it. We tried to sneak spinach in, but the color gave it away. Smile

Off to work on my meal plan/shopping list. I have the ads and coupons and might give it another go.

Goals for tomorrow's funds (pay day and rent):
[_] $1,750 for mortgage
[_] $181 for living Week 1
[_] $186 for living Week 2
[_] $400 for utilities
[_] $25 to Barclay's account
[_] $100 to retirement
[_] $30 to education

And on a side note, I am seeing how generous my children are with their own personal money. We were at Jewel and my youngest (Prince of the Generous) asked for gum. Cost $1. I pointed out that we could make a $1 donation (Jewel has the placard at checkout where you can donate $1, $3 or $5 for meals for the hungry). He was very cheerful and agreed. And the next time I was going, he had me wait and gave me another $1.

And I'm trying to continue my hobby of cross-stitch on a limited budget - using free patterns and stash on hand. I'm not really loving the small things I'm finding to do. I did find something I *really* love (The Boys Are Back in Town by Just Another Button Company). I showed it to oldest son. He came back with enough cash ($15) for me to buy the set of buttons and pattern. Smile

So, life is pretty good, despite the $.25 in the checking account. Now to be a good steward of my $181 for Week 1. (And it needs to include a gift for stepdad - and a cash donation for a birthday party son is attending). Oh well, I can do it!

Homemade cleaning products: The good, bad, and ugly?

January 14th, 2014 at 01:06 pm


In an effort to move towards simplicity and intentional living and more natural/less processed life, I am hoping to purge the chemicals I'm bringing into the home through cleaning products and pre-packaged/processed food. I am a tabula rasa for this new experience and am looking for practical advice and true and tried recipes (to aid in my success!).

Anything that anyone can share?!

New Blog Debut

January 9th, 2014 at 07:44 am

This new year is bringing exciting new opportunities for my family, so I thought that I'd create and debut a new blog. My goal is to keep is fiscally and financially focused and use it as a place to set and track goals. I have been so inspired by seeing how many of your track little flakes into money avalanches, and I hope to join in the success.

January is the last of our three paycheck months, so I was working with a total income of $7,300 (includes rental property income).

Goals for January 2014:

[x] $1,500 to outstanding tuition (high school, grade school, soccer)
[_] $1,750 to pay February's mortgage payment (meaning next mortgage payment will be due March 15, 2014)
[_] $1,500 to prepay property taxes on primary residence
[_] $1,200 for living expenses through 2/13 (roughly $200 a week, but this will be less post-employment, using one car)
[_] $250 to savings (10% of this accomplished)
[_] $800 for utilities
[_] $160 ($15/week for education and $100 to retirement)

Progress on Goals and Frugal Smartness:

* Paid $1,500 to tuition
* Started Barclay's Dream Account with $25
* Paid cash for new tires and adjusted biweekly spending amounts to reflect this
* Have $125 cash in the "spare cash in house fund"
* Had a productive shopping trip to CVS using sales and coupons to build up stockpile, saving 66% on total bill and yielding $4 ECB
* Since no groceries (other than milk and produce) are required, I threw out the sale ads for this week because nothing is needed

Smile