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Thoughts on Spending while considering UFMC Day 3

July 3rd, 2019 at 06:49 am

I can say that the budgeting method that has helped me the most is The Budget Mom and her budget by paycheck method. I like that her IG videos are no more than 5 minutes and they cause me to evaluate my spending throughout the month: plan, account for, evaluate. I also like the aspect of cash spending in cute envelopes that you can make for yourself afforably. It is really working out well.

I replenish my envelopes for spending weekly even though we get paid biweekly. I also deal with leftover money in no particularly consistent way. Tomorrow will be a no spend day because of the parade and barbecue at my parents' house. I will bring a dessert and pick up a plant as a gift (celebrating my mother's birthday too).

I have a balance of $20 left and I've decided to buy two items for my younger daughter. A bamboo swivel cosmetic organizer ($8) and woven storage basket ($12) at Aldi's. Both very cute and she's moving into an apartment on campus for the last two years of school. She's a hardworker who earned a full-ride and is interning 32 weeks at a law firm this summer while taking two additional classes. She's responsible and helpful and loving and she saw the flyer and thougth they were cute. Am I going to fret about this? Not at all.

It doesn't align with UFMC of "Wait 72 hours before buying non-essentials". But I'm not using a credit card and I've got the cash. And its definitely intentional spending.

I broke the impulse spending a long time ago when we were always house poor, managing to scrape enough funds necessary to react to whatever issue popped up. Now its proactive spending that I'm getting better at. I still fail miserably at times, like younger son's soccer cleats -- the cheap ones wouldn't work depsite how many pairs and brands we tried. I had to bite the bullet and buy mid-price point, but he's got happy feet so it was worth it.

I also see the sheer amount of money wasted on consumerism as the pile of donations in my basement has grown to resemble a mountain - I do regularly bag and drive to Goodwill. I also see the value in hand-me-downs, just have to be smarter about them. We just got two big bags of things from my nephew. We weeded through once eliminating by size what wouldn't work. We then went through and divided the rest by who would like what. They tried things on - we put snow pants with the winter stuff, hung up the winter coat, put jeans and dress pants away for the upcoming season, and the current stuff went right into drawers. Definitely saved me a lot of money and I dealt with all items right away, no piles lingering - Win-win.

And I do like new things. My wardrobe is a bit sparse of late, I lost 10# and took out everything that was big or I didn't like. I have two new items for the summer season. The only thing I would like is a graphic t-shirt with Audrey Hebpurn on it to replace one I don't like. I will admit to liking my Marilyn Monroe t-shirt too. Fun things that reflect how I want to be in life - embracing my quirkiness. And I'm no longer embarrassed my tattoos and will be adding another two along the way. I wish I was had figured this stuff out along the way.

This was a brain dump and went somewhere else than I originally intended. But, c'est la vie.

Back in the Saddle: UFMC

July 2nd, 2019 at 07:27 am

My financial life has improved dramatically from my days of lamenting about not having enough money and living in the fear of job loss. It's been a good while since I received the bequest from my grandparents' estate and my husband is still employed and I have learned to deal with the present and need to have a focus on the future.

Those doing UFMC with the Frugalwoods knows today's challenge is where do you want to go? We are in the process of downsizing from primary residence (23oo sf) to a 16oo foot townhome (three bedrooms/finished family room as the young adults are 21/20/17/15). The goal of this is to simplify our finances (buying cash with equity from current home) and to be able to travel to California more readily.

So the short-term goal: Sell current home (we are within four weeks of listing) and purchase new home.

Another short-term goal: Substitute teaching license for working in the fall. Should have done this last year, my skillset and lack of experience outside of higher religious education has made it impossible to get a job that I'm qualified for.

Medium-term goal: In four years purchase 25% of California condo from my parents (it is in a 55+ community that we are too young to co-own. My parents are fine with full ownership though the original plan was 50%-50% now. Starting in Sept I will pay for half of the monthly association costs.
I would like to save $60,000 by November 2023.

We are cash-flowing everything for the home remodel. Bathroom 1 is finsihed. Since April we've spent: $600 dryer for rental property; $600 for car repairs; $500 labor to finish bathroom after we fired friend; $250 for graduation dinner for 8th grader; $500 for older son to visit family in California in June; $150 toilet; $300 flooring for two bathrooms; and the list just keeps going. I also spent $400 for a girls weekend in Las Vegas in May. I've also budgeted for $800 for California next week with younger daughter.

Here is a quick financial snapshot:

Vanguard money market: $135,000
Fidelity 401K: $76,190
Vanguard IRA: $1,500

Z-estimate Value of Primary Residence: $490,000
Mortgage on Primary Residence: $206,000
Equity in Primary Residence: $284,000

Z-estimate Value of Rental Property: $237,000
No Mortgage
Passive income generated: $1,600/month
Cost per month: $400 taxes, $70 insurance

Now to be smart and responsible in making money decisions.

I plan on continuing the budgeting by paycheck method that I found over at thebudgetmom.com. She's pretty simple and straightforward and I am actually finding success with her plan. Over at OneDollar with Dave Ramsey, their monthly challenge is planning for Christmas. While I haven't got that as a sinking fund, I am randomly saving $5 bills in a Christmas reindeer piggy bank that lives on my closet floor. Fairly easily I've collected $70 since January.

Its so nice not be robbing Peter to pay Paul, especially when they are one in the same.

If you're still here, thanks for reading.

Quick Update

June 18th, 2019 at 07:10 am

Almost on to 3rd Quarter of 2019. Wow!

We are still in the process of home repairs. My take-away: Don't hire a friend, especially one with a drug issue. It will take you three times as long and twice as much. We are cash-flowing the repairs, have most parts purchased and just are paying for labor. We are going to bring in the handyman that works for my dad to tackle some of this. This is a true exercise in patience.

DH had his gall bladder removed. He is three years post cancer diagnosis and the most recent scan revealed a thickening gall bladder and polyps (which were really only gall stones and DH was asymptomic so they thought polyps). So that was done outpatient and recovery was slow. He returned to work today. This is a good thing! He also had an elevated liver enzyme and needed to see the gastroentrologist (they biopsied liver while taking gall bladder). As of now everything is good and in order. He is down 8 pounds and probably needs to take anothr 35 off to be at 200 which is what the primary care doc wants him to be.

Older son went to California for a visit with family. His first time flying independently and he had a good time, given his anxiety issues he did remarkably well.

Money wise it seems like we are able to dodge the money bullets as they come at us. I haven't been able to save much with the expenses, but I haven't touched my inheritance money.

Hope that all are well! Enjoy your summer.

Honking My Own Horn

October 30th, 2018 at 02:15 pm

Every year at my husband's current employer, there is a Halloween event that includes a chilli cook off and a pumpking contest. Two years ago we won the pumpking decorating contest (turned one into cookie monster thanks to pinterest).

Last year we didn't fare very well in either category.

This year I am proud to say that I won the chilli cook off! I found a simple recipe for a creamy chicken chilli in the crockpot.

Here it is:

Place two pounds chicken breasts in the bottom of crockpot.
Add drained can of corn and rinsed and drained black beans.
Add can of diced tomatoes WITH liquid.
Add one yellow onion chopped.
Add one green pepper chopped.
Season with one packed of dry ranch dressing mix.

Cook on high 3 hours.

Remove chicken breasts and shred. Return to crockpot and mix well with vegetable mixtures. Add on brick of cream cheese cut into squares, stirring til well blended.

Cook an additional 15 minutes.

I've never considered myself anything beyond basic in the kitchen. I'm pleased that my simple recipe was recognized and won.

Prize: Engraved ladle with our names on it.
And a $15 gift card to AMC Cinemas. I'm thrilled about that since I've forgotten how much I like seeing movies in the theater. Hello Date Night!

Happy Halloween!

Lost my grandmother

October 16th, 2018 at 10:10 am

Eight days ago my grandmother died at the age of almost 99. I was able to spend time with her one month before she passed, and I think that she might actually have waited to see my daughter. D arrived on Friday the 5th and had a really great day with G. The chaplain came and they had a wonderful 45 minute visit and my daughter got to pray over her great-grandmother. Saturday my grandmother was tired and they figured it was just the excitement of having D there. Then on Sunday she was tired, but in good spirits, having spent time outdoors in the Cafornia weather which she so enjoyed. They had her favorite dessert at dinner and the next morning my uncle and aunt were notified that my G passed away in her sleep.

My grandmother wasn't in bad health, but was definitely frail and having a hard time maintaining weight and had become more oxygen dependent. So while it wasn't completely unexpected, I had still hoped to see her again.

I am sorry that the other Laura lost her mom. And I hope that Lucky Robin's Dear Girl get a diagnosis and reliable medical treatment so she feels better.

I guess this was really just a lament post. Nothing here has changed one way or the other moneywise; we're still just moving along toward the future.

Prayers for everyone who needs them.

And then the ceiling fell in, or where I just laugh ...

June 7th, 2018 at 07:59 am

We had a plumbing issue with the toilet in the master bath. Twice it overflowed with tons of water. We were't home the second time and it took Offspring a bit of time to turn off the water valve.

It must've been a lot of water because the ceiling in my family room was stained the first day after and actually fell in the second day following.

And there is currently a gaping hole roughly 4' x 8'. DH removed the wall board and we've got the dehumidifier going, so it's not feeling musty or moldy.

Irony: I agreed to host a law school graduation party on Sunday for my cousin who lives out of state, but whose son lives in Chicago. My house is clean and it's being catered by Portillos. I've collected card tables and chairs from family and friends. I am renting a carpet cleaner on Saturday (we've two dogs, one very old who is having more accidents nowadaays).

My mother (who has strong Martha Stewart tendencies) said, "Oh dear. When are the repair people coming in to fix it before that party?" To which I just laughed. Since we're still running on fumes here and the money we have needs to cover oil changes and pet grooming.

I've my final appointment with the Career Counseling Center on Tuesday (finalize my resume) and we're still in the process of finding renters for the rental property.

At least my good humor was here and I didn't let my mother's aghast look that I'm actually hosting a party with a hole-y ceiling get my knickers twisty!


College book stores price match. Who knew?

April 10th, 2018 at 01:07 pm

I had a snafu with the last textbook I purchased online from Amazon. On the cover it clearly stated that it was intended for international students and not those in the US or Canada. Boo. I was so happy to get it at a reasonable price; after all the angst, I was able to use it in class and cannot quite actually determine what the differences in the text books are.

I was on campus at the bookstore today for the textbook for the two-weekend seminar upcoming. They only had new books for $105. While being helped, I said I could probably find it cheaper on Amazon, to which the worker said they price match. I ended up with the text book for $73.00 out the door. I was happy with that.

Who knew that they price match? I also found out that the eye doctor sells the contact lens boxes at warehouse club prices. I suppose it always helps to ask if they price match.

I guess this qualifies as "Saving while spending". I will need to Whack a Mole for this puchase (I am $23 short from the EXTRANEOUS FUND). But its fine. Spending across all other categories is at expected or less.

Win Some. Lose Others. Today was a Loss.

April 3rd, 2018 at 03:29 pm

I was riding high on the thrill of the economical suit purchase for DH.

And I was super proud that I got my required textbook in an earlier version for $35 on Amazon. It arrived today and ... big fail. It's for international students and not intended for use in the United States or Canada.
Topic: Methods of Research in Organizational Behavior. I thought that statistics were universal, but apparently not. The only way to remedy this is to see if I can take out a general methods textbook and try to supplement. It's required for tomorrow, I will limp along.

Also in an effort to corral expenses, I did not renew my Amazon prime today.

I did spend $33 at the grocery store and $25 in gas.

Prayers please for DH's upcoming test. It's a PET scan to confirm that a small nodule on his lung is really the "highly unlikely to be harmful" kind that his doctor thinks it is. DH does have some small nodules of insignificance on his lungs, this is a new one. His other CAT scan results were all fine, he is two years post-cancer diagnosis. I know logically this is probably nothing, but the anxiety and stress is kicking in. Anyhow, he needs to eat a particular diet tomorrow before test on Thurs.

That's all for now. Stay warm; hard to believe its spring out there!

Happy Easter/Spring and Hello April

March 30th, 2018 at 09:14 am

I closed out spending for March. The extraneous spending was higher because we had title/plate/registration/tax on the minivan my parents gifted us, I paid for spring sports for my grade schooler, Easter cost us $170 (that is the dinner and I spent $30 on each child getting them things that they need (summer clothes), I also had to pay for a textbook that I needed for this quarter and couldn't borrow.

I think that the rest of the year is going to fly for us since we are 4th quarter/2nd semester for everyone. I have 9 weeks left of the quarter and I think it should be manageable. The methods of organizational research class requires weekly check-ins with the professor (there are only nine of us in the class), so I won't be stressed at the end of it, and I read the syllabus for the two weekend seminar and I've already started what I can on that (journal article reviews and doing prelim background research on some OD topics).

I am going to attend a Speaker Lecture Series for free; I'm non-degree seeking (16 hour grad certificate) but they agreed to waive the cost. I'm looking forward to it and am glad I accepted the offer. More knowledge is always a good thing.

Looking forward to a low-spend April. It's a short month, I'm fairly organized, and I've been building a stockpile. And collecting easy and economical recipes.

Today we're heading to the Garfield Park Conservatory and eating at Chillis. I spend $50 on gift cards at CVS for Chillis and have $10 ECB. I also spent $50 on groceries at Target and got a $10 gift card. I'm hosting a brunch but it keeps getting smaller and smaller. I don't really mind much; I'm getting less and less accepting of other people's drama.

Enjoy your weekend and see you in April!

Grocery and Meal Plan Challenge for April

March 19th, 2018 at 10:36 am

The writing is on the wall and DH's official last day is 5/31 with his final check on 6/1. That being said, I need to cast some attention to the budget and spending. I will readily admit to being on money autopilot since I started back to school in January. We aren't over spending and I am tracking, but I am seeing that things can definitely be done smarter to conserve money if I just put forth the energy and plan and commit.

We had two trips to Sam's Club in the past month. One was for $270 (I used $100 of the tax return toward that) and the other was for $230 (I used $100 from DH's bonus for that too). We did stock up on toilet paper, feminine hygiene products x2, batteries, razors, dishwasher pods, and vitamins. Since our local Sam's closed, we did have to drive to suburbs north for the trips and we did fill up on gas while there.

My goal for April is $300 for all consumables. That's $10/day for a family of six. I'm planning on no processed food items and am on the fence about Gatorade since my boys are practicing daily for soccer/track/and volleyball.

I've been spending some time on websites reading about frugal meals and was wondering if anyone has any tried and true economical recipes that their families like?

Our cheapest eats lately have been: curried chickpeas and ground turkey with peppers. I've also made crockpot granola with success, and instead of Belvita bars for my daughter, we found a simple recipe for sweet potato pancakes that are very tasty and economical.

I've found a new recipe for quinoa broccoli bites. And am looking to expand my new recipes for this endeavor.

Thanks in advance!

Plan for April

March 15th, 2018 at 05:53 pm

DH's boss's last day is 4/30 with the final reduction in his current department is 5/31. The office will become a satellite office as the work has migrated to HQ, with a kick-back of some of the more complicated contracts for a final transition.

This means a finite number of paychecks. This thankfully coincides to a completion of my program and I would surmise that I should be able to find a job relatively easily or at least get a paid internship for the summer.

So the plan for April is to do a low-spend, uber frugal month challenge. There isn't much anticipated and it will be a month full of soccer, boys' volleyball and track. I won't need to outfit the boys with summer uniforms because they're set.

I'm going to see about borrowing the text books for the upcoming quarter. I'm using the library for books on tape and videos. I'm thinking that it can definitely be a practice run at economizing.

Definitely giving thoughts to how to contain costs while increasing savings.

Smarter in General

March 14th, 2018 at 03:27 pm

Thanks for all the feedback on where your sinking funds are parked. I also found a particularly helpful youtube vid about it at JennPlans. Thanks to Scottish Girl for recommending that. Since forever, I've been lumping all those things together into one EXTRANEOUS/MISCELLANY category (other categories in the budget are mortgage/utilities/consumables (food/household/personal care/pet)/gasoline. So that would be education/clothing/gifts/entertainment/etc. And that has been at around $300 a month.

I've tracked every red cent spent since 1/1/18 and feel that I have a fairly close estimate to what I have spent, yet I need to work some magic and come up with actual amounts for each intended sub-category.

Things that have helped with the money flow:

- I have two daughters who are at home now, and since the use of my car has increased, they contribute to gas and insurane payments. Since they both work (older nannies and models, younger nannies and dog sits), they pretty much cover all of their own expenses.

- Our medical expenses have been lower since we have a Flex Spend account set up and that should cover the next three months of expeses (so 1/2 year). We did not have that last year.

- We are still contributing 10% of DH's pay to 401K. I'd like to save more, but there is still uncertianty in our future.

- I took advantage of a CD (savings certificate) paying 4% (thanks FrugalTexan Laura for recommending the CU!)

- I'm parking the sinking funds into the Reserve Checking Account associated with the PNC Virtual Wallet.

- This is the first time that we aren't anxiously awaiting the check from DH's side job to cover some expense. It's rather nice to not feel the anxiety of Paycheck To Paycheck living. Best thing I ever did was apply the income tax refund to YNAB's income usage concept. I'm actually looking forward to April 1st when I will pay pretty much everything that isn't automated.

- I will declare April a Low-Spend month since I will be back in school (starting up last quarter on 3/26) and am taking one 4 hour course over two weekend seminars. I also plan on incorporating a simple but detailed meal plan for most of the month.

- We are eating healthier and it does cost more.

- I'm feeling desperate about lack of sleeping pill usage, but will ride it out. I've started training for a 5K in April and ran yesterday and today despite it being cold. I've learned that older daughter does not like to run in the cold. I'm hoping to take off another 6-8# this month. No sugar either.

- Today I made homemade granola in the crockpot. Nut-free since older daughter had her allergy testing done and lots of things came up. Frown

- Anyhow, just feeling smarter in general.