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It's all about what works...what really works...for you

November 26th, 2009 at 04:45 am

I was around quite a bit three years ago and was very active on the message board and less so in blogging. Since my return, I've noticed the message boards seem to be all about...how shall I say this nicely...tough love? And the blogs seem to be all about support. I keep telling myself, hey, I paid down $27,000 in debt. Yes, my original goal was to do so in one year's time. Did I manage my goal? Um...no. Was it because my plan was faulty? No...it was because I was naive, idealistic, unrealistic and in my rose colored world there were no broken down washers, kid's school expenses, or doctor's visits. Would I advise someone else to keep a $100 balance in their checking account while throwing every spare cent at the credit cards without any type of savings at all? No I would not. But did it work for me? Apparently so.

I'm struggling to pay for Christmas right now without putting money on the credit cards. I know the words "I'm struggling to pay for Christmas" sends chills down spines, tears to some eyes and breaks the hearts of the tender hearted who care very deeply about the children. Then there are those, and rightfully so, who don't care a bit if someone can't afford Christmas because it's about the spirit of the holiday. But for me, "I'm struggling to pay for Christmas" is really just me complaining. We'll get through the holiday, some of it will have to go on the card, but we're expecting a large reimbursement check next month that will cover it. It will, hopefully, be the last time we're looking backwards.

In any case, I'm proud of what we've done. We're at point 0 right now, surface level, and the waves are gently making it a struggle. But there are no rip tides in sight.

Starting a freedom account...again

November 24th, 2009 at 06:41 am

I had a freedom account established a few years ago, and though it didn't lost long, I liked having it. We're expecting a large reimbursement check within the month that will take care of Christmas plus a good amount to start up a FA. I've been brainstorming categories I need it for today and estimated $1000 for misc. for the year. I wonder, should clothes and home improvement monies be accounted for in a FA or in some other way? We've scrimped for so long, we've never had money for either category and bought only when necessary and then only very cheap.

Cheap vs. quality

November 20th, 2009 at 05:10 am

I was reading an article about buying cheap things and it got me thinking about things I am cheap about vs those items I insist on quality regardless of cost.

Shoes: The shoes on my feet cost a ridiculous $285 and I own two pair (sandals and tennies). Now on the plus side, I can have them completely overhauled as often as I like or need for only $50-$60. That's like a new pair of $285 shoes for $50. I figure that's a pretty good deal. And with these shoes I do not have knee, back, or foot pain. And my closet is nice and spacious and uncluttered by cheap shoes!

Clothes: I swing both ways here. I go through spurts. I try to get clothes from the thrift store and actually end up with better quality there than when I go shopping for new items. When I buy new it's generally because I'm in need of something specific, and everyone knows you can't go to the thrift store with an agenda. ;o) But my quality/expensive clothing always lasts longer, fades less, and looks better longer. Where I might replace a cheap pair of jeans within a year, I'll wear an expensive pair for five+ years, waistline willing. ;o) (Actually right now, I'm hoping to get out of these 5 year jeans and go smaller!)

appliances: I'm big on buying high quality appliances! This seems to be hit or miss, unfortunately. We bought a top of the line fridge a few years back and we hate it! For a couple months every time I opened it a new little piece of plastic popped off! The part that held the container for the ice maker completely fell apart. But we just bought a new washer/drier (needed to) and bought top of the line. In this case I'm glad we did, so far.

Socks: Only high quality for me. My gold-toe socks are still being worn after...um...1989!! Wow! And daily! I got them for Christmas in high school. Any cheapy socks I've purchased since have been replaced yearly. Now for the kids, only cheap socks. Yes, they wear out in about three months, but they're also generally so filthy I don't mind throwing them out. I bought them high quality socks once and still threw them out after about four months just because they had turned unalterably brown.

For other items I am cheap! Food at Aldi's. Furniture is almost always hand-me-down. I buy generic soaps. I devour books at the library and if I purchase them it's from a half-price book store. I just avoid new bookstores, because I can't walk out of a bookstore without a purchase. Who am I kidding? Three purchases!

Found some Christmas money

November 18th, 2009 at 08:10 am

I found some old gift cards and decided to check out their balances online. Glad I did!

Kohls 4.66
Walgreens 17.70
Walmart 74.88 (!)

Total: $97.24!!

Sam's Club takes Walmart gift cards. If I do Click N' Pull, I won't get sidetracked and spend money I didn't intend to spend! Yeah! And if I send DH to get the goods, it's even less likely to happen!

Now...what stocking stuffers can I find at Kohls for $4.66?

On ditching the cell phone

November 16th, 2009 at 04:55 am

I gave up my cell phone a couple months ago for a couple reasons.
1. It broke and was going to cost me $50 to fix.

2. I rarely used it and was pretty sure I used it far less than my bare-bones policy accommodated.

3. I get tired of how rude other people are with their cell phones and didn't want any part of it for me.

At first I thought I'd look into pre-paid phones. But it has been two or three months now and I have only missed the phone on a couple occasions. I wished I'd had it when my husband and I got separated at my kids' carnival, but I stayed in one place and he found me. And I sometimes wish I had it to make a quick phone call home from the road, just to check in. But now I just call from work before heading the door if I want to check in.

It's oddly freeing not having the cell phone. No one can call me at inopportune times and I am not obligated to listen to the voice mail on the stupid thing. And I'm saving about $45 a month.

DH has a cell phone paid for entirely by his employer and I can use it if ever necessary. And if I ever take a long trip or something by myself, I'll look in to a pre-paid phone. But for now, I do not miss my cell phone.

Looking ahead this pay period

November 13th, 2009 at 04:43 am

Now that the credit cards are gone, we're facing Christmas without any savings and I'm bound and determined not to have any debt when this holiday season is over. So I'm looking ahead. I'm also looking ahead to Thanksgiving. It is going to be such a busy week. I have to host twice because my in-laws and my own family do not get along. Every year I either host two Thanksgivings or two Christmases. I really don't mind, but usually I have the entire week of Thanksgiving off at work. This year I'm not off until Thursday. So I'm stuffing my freezer this weekend with what I can.

For the freezer:
Sweet Potato soufle X2
Corn casserole X2
mashed potato bake


Next pay day is the Friday after Thanksgiving, so all expenses come out of this paycheck. Hmmm...

I don't have to worry about the CC companies...

November 11th, 2009 at 05:10 pm

Forgive me, but this whole no-credit card debt is new to me. I watched with fear, biting my nails, as the news reporter told me of all the horrors banks are throwing at their costumers trying to make as much money as they can now before the new government protection rules go into effect. Then I remembered...I don't have to worry about this! My debt is paid!

Kristen on not buying a fridge

November 9th, 2009 at 01:46 pm

The temptation is so great! We just bought a new house, and I love the home! And though the home is much larger than our old home, the previous owners chose a really small fridge so that it didn't stick out too far and impeded the flow of traffic into the kitchen. I can see that. But they bought a side by side and the freezer is so small you can't fit a frozen pizza in it, or even a box half its size. And the fridge? There's no way a turkey's going in there. And we host two full Thanksgivings and one full Christmas.

So I want a fridge to put in the garage! I'm close to saying I actually need a fridge.

But...

We will just pay off the credit cards this coming Friday. Finally! I do not want to put more on the card than we can pay off by next Friday and Christmas is coming up with no money yet put aside. All these years it's been about the credit cards.

I need some encouragement to not buy a new fridge. We have a ridiculously large freezer in the basement that the owners left. It's the fridge I lament.

Perhaps some tips on how to accommodate the holidays with my tiny fridge?

The new plan

November 7th, 2009 at 06:23 am

Now that the debt has been paid off, DH and I would like to work toward living off one salary and socking away the other. I just added up all the expenses (bills) that come out of my paycheck and was shocked to see we have close to $400 left over at the end of the month. I'm not confident that's accurate yet because we just moved and I know water/electric etc. will change a bit. That $400 would have to stretch over all non-bills: food, haircuts, entertainment, etc. So we aren't quite there yet. Once we get the car paid off though, I think we can swing it.

In an effort to stay in this frugal mindset I've been in for so many years now, I have a bit of a plan for the weekend:

1. Go to Aldi with a list for breakfasts, lunches and tonight's dinner. I have other dinners already prepared for the week, but tonight we have company.

2. Buy my son new shoes. I can see his toes.

3. Buy my other son new pants because only two pair fit.

Finally, finally, finally, the happy dance!

November 5th, 2009 at 05:45 pm

I've been waiting to write this entry for a very, very, very long time now!

Finally today, I wrote one of two final checks to clear out our massive amount of debt! The rest will be paid off after pay day next Friday. Wahoo!! We will have 0 credit card debt!

This has been a long time in coming. I will never know what the worst of it was because I was afraid to look until it totaled $27,000. I thought it would be easy to pay off. I thought if we stuck to a plan we'd have it paid off within the year. That was three years ago. I don't suppose three years was all the bad in retrospect. The problem was that even though our plan was always to send X amount to the cards each month, things come up. Holidays, food for holiday guests, vacations we couldn't say "no" to, school pictures, school fund raisers, car repairs, doctor's visits, emergency dental needs, worn out shoes, Christmas gifts, new baby gifts, etc., etc., etc. The best of plans have a way of getting derailed.

But today as I type we are finally credit card free.

Next mission: the car. If I do nothing we'll have it paid off NEXT Spring. But if we put more toward it...who knows. I think what we're actually going to do is just sock money away and once the balance in savings matches the car payoff, we'll send it all in.

Dreaming of finances

May 10th, 2008 at 06:02 am

I couldn't sleep last night because I kept playing with numbers in my head.

This week is going to be difficult. We have to work within the money my husband cashed yesterday and it has to stretch pretty far. I need to root through the freezer and figure out what we have and better yet, what we can eat for lunches. I actually have dinners figured out, not lunches.

Checking in

May 9th, 2008 at 07:05 am

It seems I only blog when I'm feeling good about things. Ha!

We just paid off some bills that made it possible to be back down to just one CC again. It seems pathetic that in a whole year's time we've only paid off about $4,000. But we're in a better place now than we were. Then I was so hung up on putting every penny we got into the CC payment that I was leaving nothing in our checking account forcing us to use our CC to buy groceries. Sinced then, I've stopped doing that. It's been about 5 months since we used a credit card at all. We were going through a cycle of having nothing left over at the end of the month, putting Christmas on the card and then starting all over. Now I am putting money aside for Christmas and am not spending every spare penny we have toward the card.

So I am optomistic that this is the year. My plan is to pay off $1000 every month, and little windfalls will help in addition to that. Worst case scenario, I'm hoping for:
May: 15300
June: 14300
July: 13300
August: 12300
September: 11300
October: 10300
November: 9300
December: 8300
January: 7300
February: 6300
March: 5300
April: 4300
May: 3300
June: 2300
July: 1300
August: 300

Weight loss challenge starts today

March 5th, 2007 at 06:39 am

I've joined a challenge for the next 6 weeks in which I have agreed to be pretty perfect with my diet and exercise. This means I have even given up my dark chocolate!

I am following a strict phase 2 of South Beach. I occassionally slip into a phase 3 style, but for the next 6 weeks, I will re-acquaint myself with a true phase 2! In addition to that, I am going to hit the gym hard! (As opposed to just slapping it. LOL!) Seriously, no more sauna because that time eats into my workout time. For six weeks, I'm doing the full hour with intensity! No whining allowed! Can't wait to record the end results.

On the finance front...not much to report. I just need to get more organized. Like we forgot to pull out cash for our son's lunch this morning. I need to remember on Friday to pull out cash. Go back to the cash system...it worked.

Another payment

March 3rd, 2007 at 06:29 pm

Just sent another payment of $348 to the CC. We used $50.00 worth of coupons to pay for this weeks groceries. I think our grocery bill totaled about $27.00, so not bad for the week.

What have I done today?

March 2nd, 2007 at 12:11 pm

My intentions for journaling were good. Big Grin I got sick and so I haven't really been thinking about finances this week.

But today is payday, so I thought about it. Wink

Yesterday's frugal thing came in a little card I found on my desk! I was cleaning out a file on top of my desk at school and I came across a Christmas card, which I almost threw away unopened. But I opened it and it was a card from one of my kids with $6.00 worth of Wendy's bucks inside. I was so surprised!! Someone stuck it in this file and I never found it! I felt really bad though, because I never thanked him for it! So I wrote a quick thank you note to him. I had been lazy that morning though and hadn't packed a lunch, which is very rare these days. I always pack now. And my plan was to go to Wendy's for a salad. So that is what I did and it was free.

The remaining CC is down to $1500 and should be paid off within the month.

I get an extra pay in March and I'm trying to decided what to do with it. I want to put it in the savings account and use it to completely pay for daycare next year upfront. That would relieve stress for me.

I am down 29 lbs now! Big Grin