Saturday, April 12, 2014

May Budget

We decided to move for a job opportunity, so my May budget may be a bit wonky, as we are selling the house, and trying to get a lot of medical stuff done before the move, so the budget will fluctuate a lot depending on when the house sells and where we live after it sells, so these are just estimates.

May Budget-
Tuition and childcare 700$
Utilities 250$
Cell and Internet 105$ 
Cleaner 70-140$ :) This depends on how fast the house sells.
Food, Toiletries, and Household 500$ 
Restaurants 80$  
Medical 450$
Debt Repayment Savings 650$ 
Birthday Gift 150 
Chiro 35
Gift for Mother's day 20$ 

June Budget-
Tuition and childcare 125$
Utilities 350$
Cell and Internet 105$ 
Cleaner 70-140$ :) This depends on how fast the house sells.
Food, Toiletries, and Household 700$ 
Restaurants 80$  
Medical 400$
Debt Repayment Savings 500$ 
Savings 681$

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Super Frugal Saturday to Saturday 7 day challenge

I have been a little spendy lately, so I want to go on a frugal seven day challenge.

My goal is to just spend 50 bucks this week. I got a 50 dollar gift for by birthday, so here is how I plan to spend it.

4$ Library Fine
3$ Bread
2$ Cheese
2.50 $ Milk
3$ Potatoes
5$ Wipes
5$ Green Salad
5$ Squash
4$ Cereal
5$ Lunch snacks
5$ Chicken
2$ Cake stuff
5$ Mailing a b day gift to a friend.

With this and my stocked pantry and freezer, I will have enough for the week for these meals:

Pasta and sauce
Meatballs and squash
Lemmon Chicken and Mashed potatoes with salad
Egg and potato tacos
Pizza Night
Egg pie
Chocolate Cake
Lunches: Leftovers and cheese sandwhiches
Oatmeal/ Cereal/ coffee for breakfast
Starbuck's card for a coffee treat next week :)

Sailing with my dad. Free
Library Videos for a movie night. Free
Nature walk/ bike ride. Free
Birthday Dinner made at home. (included in grocery bill)

Cleaning the house, so I can save the cleaner to come before we put it on the market.
Food shopping
Painting tile

I am pumped for a frugal week and for using up some pantry/ freezer items. :)

I will check back in and let you know how it went next week.

Monday, March 24, 2014

April Budget- Spoiling me ;)

April Budget-
Tuition and childcare 700$
Utilities 250$
Cell and Internet 105$ 
Cleaner 70$ :) I am so so excited I can afford this.
Food, Toiletries, and Household 500$ 
Restaurants 80$  
Paperwork costs 350$
Debt Repayment Savings 600$ 
Dentist/ Medical Visits 150$ 
Min. Lowe's Payment 51$ 
Gifts 35$
Self Care 200$

May Budget-
Tuition and childcare 700$
Utilities 250$
Cell and Internet 105$ 
Cleaner 70$ :) I am so so excited I can afford this.
Food, Toiletries, and Household 500$ 
Restaurants 80$  
Home Repair 689$
Debt Repayment Savings 600$ 
Medical Visits 50$
Min. Lowe's Payment 45$ 

Super frugal renovation plan:
New sink top: 800$
Faucets: 200$
Crown Molding: 150$
Spray Paint: 40$
Mirror Framing: 40$
Tile and Grout Repair: 40$
Total: 1270
Minus 789
481 still needs to be budgeted. 

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Super Frugal Day

Frugal Things:

1) Made coffees at home and took the kids to the park around the corner then went on a family walk.
2) Detailed the car with my son at home.
3) My dad come over and helped us with some DIY repairs.
4) I made a nice lunch with food on hand and we had leftover cake for dessert.
5) We went for a bike ride.
6) We watched a library movie as a family.
7) We ate leftovers for dinner.

We had a happy, productive, fun day and did not spend a dollar.

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Week Twelve: In the groove!

March Budget-
Tuition and childcare 575$  350$
Utilities 300$ 259.13$
Cell and Internet 105$ 98$
Cleaner 70$ :) I am so so excited I can afford this. 70$ of the best dollars I have ever spent. 
Food, Toiletries, and Household 485$ So far I have spent: 241.12$
Restaurants 70$  112.34$!!!! Overage Alert!
Amex Card 440$ 448$!!!! Overage Alert!
Stay-cation spending money 100$ 0$
Debt Repayment Savings 600$ 0$
Dentist/ Medical Visits 300$ 150$
Min. Lowe's Payment 45$ 0$
Spa 165.00!!!!! This was not in the budget.

This week I was sick and got a lot off budget, but thanks to so much help from my family the damage is not as bad as I thought it was. I did end up spending half our dentist money on medical expenses; however, I will save what is left over and reallocate the surplus next month. I missed a whole week of work, so I will not be taking a day off for the dentist this month, so I can budget the rest for April. 

Also, looking ahead, I have some home repairs associated with selling the house, so I need to think about those in the May budget. Here are the over estimated costs:

New sink top: 1000$
Faucets: 300$
Crown Molding: 150$
Spray Paint: 40$
Mirror Framing: 40$
Tile and Grout Repair: 40$
Total: 1470$ 

I hope this number is much closer to 1000$, so I need to start looking for some deals.

Monday, March 3, 2014

Week Eleven: Enjoying a bit of freedom

I had another glorious week at Trader Joe's getting all the treats we love and of course the necessities for the week and beyond. I gave myself absolute freedom with selecting my items and found myself stocking up on some items, so my total was 170$. EEKK. My total March grocery budget is 485$, so that was a chunk of it. It all balanced out though because we have all been sick, so we stayed home two days, which saved us 50$ in childcare, so it all worked out to 120$ in the end. Also, I ordered Chinese food which ended up being 21$, so those were my splurges so far, and I enjoyed them ever so much.

March Budget Part 3-
Tuition and childcare 575$   I will actually spend: 550$
Utilities 300$ 
Cell and Internet 105$
Cleaner 70$ :) I am so so excited I can afford this. 
Food, Toiletries, and Household 485$ So far I have spent: 170$
Restaurants 70$ So far I have spent 22$
Amex Card 440$
Stay-cation spending money 100$
Debt Repayment Savings 600$
Dentist Visits 300$
Min Lowes Payment 45$

Next week I am preparing for a guest, which includes my cleaner coming again. I missed her so much and can't wait to walk in the house Friday afternoon and have it be spotless for the first time in forever. I will roam from room to room and be happy. 

Now it is time to peel myself off the couch and clean up this living room and get my life sorted out to return to work and life outside my house. I have not left the house in a couple of days.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Week Nine: I have stopped buying stuff

This week is a short post. My husband is doing all shopping and saving us a fortune. I am wondering after a month of this how much I will have saved up! GO TEAM WORK!!!!!

Monday, February 17, 2014

Week Eight: March as a breakthrough month. Out of Winter and into Spring.

So with going back and forth with the budget and how to use the tax return, I decided to just ignore it. I will pretend it never happened and move along as normal. When my Lowe's bill comes due, I will have the money saved up and can make a choice on how to use it; of course it will be paid in full before the interest kicks in. 

Also, my husband and I decided he will do the food shopping; he seems to save more when he goes, so we will try this out for the next month and see if we like it. I still prepare the list and do food planning.

I am so excited for March to roll around; I know it is still 13 days away, but it feels like it is right around the corner. It will be the first month I don't have an austerity budget. I even planned some super fun things like using my credit card points to book a fun "stay-cation" for my son's birthday. Also, having a friend come for a visit will be a blast. I am hoping the weather will  be amazing for her visit. 

Overall, I think I have made it through the darkness, and learned a lot about money, stress, responsibility, and what really in my life is causing me to be sad. In the past, I covered up my feelings with spending, but now, I am looking head on into what I feel and think. It is not easy to face life's disappointments and my own personal poor choices, but moving ahead, I look forward to a better life and perhaps even taking advantage of some free counseling to process these things. 

March Budget Part 3-
Tuition and childcare 575$
Utilities 300$
Cell and Internet 105$
Cleaner 70$ :) I am so so excited I can afford this. 
Food, Toiletries, and Household 485$ 
Restaurants 70$
Amex Card 440$
Stay-cation spending money 100$
Debt Repayment Savings 600$
Dentist Visits 300$
Min Lowes Payment 45$

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Week Seven: Hope in the form of a tax refund.

My husband just came back from our "tax guy" and we are getting a sizable refund: 5000$.  As is our habit, we will divide this between us, so I will get 2400. My husband payed 100$ to get our taxes done, so he will get that back from the refund.

Of course, I feel really hopeful that this cash will help me get out of this whole I have dug for myself. So how will it be divided up? I will plan out two different options of how this could go.

Option One:

Emergency Fund Savings 868.17 :) 
403B 2656.50 - 1,531.83= 1,124.67
Lowe's 4426.23 
Dad 1000

Total Debt after 6550.9
1,975.12 due by 6/15 to avoid interest charges.

I like this option because it makes the most of the money by avoiding fees from my 403B, but if that Lowe's bill goes over, I am in big trouble and would have to dip into my emergency money. 

Option Two:

Emergency Fun Savings 868.17 :) 
403B 2656.50
Lowe's 4426.23- 1124.67= 3,301
Dad 1000

Total Debt after 6550.9
850 due by 6/15

I like this option because it is the most comfortable. It feels safer if not the most mathematically sound. I am tired of being stressed about money, so this feels right. 

I am still torn between these two choices and go back and forth, but what a great problem to have :) 

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Week Six: Joy and a trip to Trader Joe's

After a very hard week, I decided to go to my very favorite grocery store ever: Trader Joe's. I even allowed myself to shop with abandon. I did a fair amount of damage, but it feels so great to have all sorts of treats in the house, after five weeks of just the basics.

My Very Happy List of Special and Tasty Treats Treats:
Vanilla Meringue
Cherry Juice
Animal Crackers
Spininch and Kale Dip
White Bean and Basil Hummus
Blue Tortilla Chips

These little yummies have been so fun to snack on this weekend. Of course, I bought loads of basics to round out a yummy meal plan and all sorts of yummy snacks. So the damage was significant, but I am hoping that we will avoid take out, and that my lunches will be something to look forward to; They have really been the worst and have left me feeling deprived and sad.

Total Damage: 162.18.

I had 100$ budgeted a week, but this was such a mood lifter to have some yummy stuff to look forward to, so I will just deal with this and move on.

Other damages include a 21$ haircut; I have an interview on Thursday and have not had a haircut since August, so it was needed.

Frugal Stuff:
My week was not all spendy spendy time. I did a lot of work in our half bath to clean up some messy finishes from when redid two years ago; I just used materials we had at the house, and made it look a lot better. My goal is to start to get the house polished, one thing a weekend, so it will be ready to sell in the summer if we end up moving abroad. We ate all meals at home this weekend, and only spent 10$ for my older son to go bowling. Also, I renewed our library items, so we can enjoy them for the week.

My bank account looks a bit sad with 461$ in the bank and three more weeks until pay day, so it looks like I will be in the red this month. In the past, when this has been the case, I have just given up and spent whatever I wanted. I will have to put somethings on a credit card, but this will not be an excuse to spend a penny more than needed.

200$ school tuition
325$ childcare
70$ phone bill
450$ groceries
127.17$ amex bill with hotel
75$ gas for interview trip
75-125$ food while on interview trip

886.17 in the red!!! Will I ever climb out of this hole!? Mad at myself, but also not seeing any other way to keep my spirits up besides a fun grocery week. Blahhh. 

SO here is my revised March budget.

Tuition and childcare 575$
Utilities 300$
Cell and Internet 105$
Cleaner 70$ :) 
Food, Toiletries, and Household 600$ 
Restaurants 70$
Emergency Fund Savings 386$ 131.83$ 
Vacation Savings 100$ 0$
Debt Repayment Savings 600$ 0$
Dentist Visits 300$
Min Lowes Payment 45$
Feb Debt 886.17$

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Week Five: My Debt Breakdown and my personal breakdown involving a hotel room

403B 2656.50 (House stuff)
Lowe's 4476.23 (Fridge and wood blinds)
My dad 1000 (travel)
Chase 30.28 (Chinese Food)

Total 8163.01 Better, but still in the red. 

Amex Paid in Full 2278.80   (Insurance that I failed to save for)

This week I got paid, and the account balance went to my head a bit. I did really well on the groceries, and I even have 26$ bucks left over for a mid week store stop, but I got crazy.

I have an interview in Houston next month and I booked a 400$ hotel room, so my husband freaked out, and I cancelled it. I am insane, and I am so glad my better half kept me on track. I just am a little unhappy and then I think this will make me feel better, so then I am even more unhappy. It is a stupid cycle.

We are going to stay with a friend in Galveston, then drive to the interview super early in the AM. Hopefully the whole trip will be under 200$ with gas and food.

I don't have this in the budget for this month, but this is a great opportunity, so we decided to go for it! I have 300$ set up to deposit in my travel account at the end of March, so I will use that to pay off the charges I make toward the trip. There are only three more weeks in my super frugal austerity budget, so I need to stay focused on that. March will be easier.

Here are the estimated trip costs:

60$ in Gas
80$ in Food
20$ Gift for my friend's birthday
Total: 160$

It is not ideal, but here we are. I made bad choices in the past, and even tried to do it again with the fancy hotel. So this is a needed trip, and I have to pony up the cash like it or lump it.

Frugal things:
We went to the library yesterday.
I have a really great food week planned and can do most of the cooking this weekend!
I will make my friend a cake and take her a lasagna and a small gift for her birthday.
We will take our small car for the trip.
Our coffee maker broke, so we will ask for a replacement part where I bought it instead of buying a new one.

Monday, January 20, 2014

Week Four: the 70$ migraine


I had a really really bad migraine which meant an emergency trip to the chiropractor and in a full on state of self pity, I ordered 30$ of Chinese food. It was a bad choice to order take out, and now I am left with 52$ for the last week of groceries, so now it is time for a super frugal week.

I went to Aldi and to our butcher, and I feel good about our meal plans:

Pasta with meat sauce for dinner and left over lunches.
Veggie Chili and leftovers for lunches and jacket potatoes for my chili hating kids ;)
Chicken legs with mashed potatos and broccoli.
Bean and cheese burritos and salad.
Homemade pizza and salad.
French fries and eggs with salad.
Pasta with tomato sauce and salad.

For breakfast we have cereal and pumpkin bread, and I am going to make a batch of homemade bagels for the freezer.

It really made me wonder why I spend more than 52$ on food every week. Hmmmm.

Frugal things:
Burritos with frozen beans from last month.
Pumpkin bread with frozen pumpkin from last month.
I still have two baguettes in the freezer from last week :)
I am out of tahini, so I am plotting making hummus with almond butter.
I made homemade brownies again! Yummy.

How this project has changed me one month in:
I am over my withdraw from consumerism; I have no desire to buy stuff. Instead, I am looking forward to time with friends, and I continue to reach out for community instead of consumerism. It seems to be a fulfilling substitute, and it is so much better on my budget. I also have found myself being a better, more understanding friend, so I am proud of that.

I am opening my mind to all the opportunities of my career. I am looking at jobs around the world and we even spoke to a realtor about the value of our home. From doing this project, I realize that shopping has been a cover for some dissatisfaction in my job, which ironically has made me more beholden to my job. I want to be a happy, satisfied person, and looking at other jobs really has made me feel less stress at work. I need something new, and I think a new job is the ticket.

Goals for next week: 
Pay off tax bill in full.
Transfer 125$ to hub's account.
Less than 100$ groceries.
Bake more.
Update debt total.
Play outside more.

Over all, one month down,  and I am so proud of me.

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Week Three: Getting off track and then back on.

I have two months of severe austerity, so I am about 1/4 of the way through the two roughest months for my budget: January and February. Now, I will be the first to admit that 100$ for food a week with my husband doing some milk and bread runs is not severe to many people living in poverty, but with four people in my home, it feels like a challenge.

A challenge that I failed when I went 30$ over my grocery budget. The consequence of that is that next week I will only have 60$ for food shopping. I am disappointed in myself because my budget overage could have been prevented if I had made my own bagels instead of buying them, and if I had gone in the store by myself instead of with the kids. I lost count of how much my total was and went over. Also, I went out for a coffee (2.11$) and got 11$ pizza takeout on Friday because I was done, done, done with cooking.

I already told my husband that I needed his help to cook a meal toward the end of the week, so that should help. My goal for this afternoon is to make bauguettes and a big pot of chili for Tuesday night. Also, I need to spot clean the house.

I was feeling sorry for myself that the cleaner is not coming until March, and I have zero cash, but after talking to my dad about what it took for him to pay his way through school and become a finical powerhouse, I feel better. It takes a lot of hard work and sacrifice; it is a lifestyle and a commitment.

I am strong; I am a hard worker, and I am committed. My post next week will be a success story of staying in budget and doing my biweekly home deep clean :)

Monday, January 6, 2014

The Numbers: Week Two

Debt other than mortgage: 10,371.53 :( It will take me 12-15 months to finish off all this debt, but I will be saving towards other goals along the way, which is important to me so I can stay motivated.

That is a huge amount of debt considering my monthly take home is 3081$. When I think that I have basically enslaved myself for over three months of labor, it is so intimidating and embarrassing and just upsetting in general.

My plan to repay this is by setting up an automatic payment system which will go from my main bank account to some savings accounts. The auto save will begin on March 31st, so it will pull from my April spending. It feels like forever, but I am trying to absorb an insurance bill this month and next because I did not plan or save for something that I fully knew was coming up. Totally irresponsible and foolish, considering that I was fine buying appliances and ELFA shelving all the time knowing I would be in a pickle.

So here I am in my pickle, and this is my budget breakdown for February-July. My husband and I have separate bills we pay, so I don't have to worry about the mortgage, gas, or anything car related except for the insurance.

My goal is to update this to the actual spending, but I am so determined to turn this ship around and STICK TO THIS BUDGET!

Tuition and childcare 675$
Utilities 300$
Cell and Internet 105$
Cleaner 70$ I am sad to say I can't afford to have the house cleaned for Jan and Feb.
Food, Toiletries, and Household 400$
Remainder of insurance bill 1,568.53$
Min Lowes Payment 45$

Tuition and childcare 575$
Utilities 300$
Cell and Internet 105$
Cleaner 70$ :) 
Food, Toiletries, and Household 500$ 
Restaurants 70$
Emergency Fund Savings 386$
Vacation Savings 100$
Debt Repayment Savings 600$
Dentist Visits 300$
Min Lowes Payment 45$

April and May-
Tuition and childcare 700$
Utilities 250$
Cell and Internet 105$
Cleaner 70$ :)
Food, Toiletries, and Household 500$
Restaurants 100$
Min Lowes Payment 45$
Debt repayment 667$
Vacation Savings 300$
Insurance bills 12/2014 150$
Emergency Fund 100$
Home Renovation Fund 50$
New Car Fund 50$

June -
Tuition and childcare 125$
Utilities 320$
Cell and Internet 105$
Cleaner 70$ :)
Food, Toiletries, and Household 500$
Restaurants 100$
Min Lowes Payment 45$
Back to School Savings 500$
Debt repayment 667$
Vacation Savings 300$
Insurance bills 12/2014 150$
Emergency Fund 100$
Home Renovation Fund 50$
New Car Fund 50$

Tuition and childcare 0$
Utilities 320$
Cell and Internet 105$
Cleaner 70$ :)
Food, Toiletries, and Household 500$
Restaurants 100$
Back to School Savings 0$
Debt repayment 800$
Vacation Savings 836$
Insurance bills 12/2014 150$
Emergency Fund 100$
Home Renovation Fund 50$
New Car Fund 50$

Friday, January 3, 2014

Container Store, I quit you (even during your 30% off ELFA sale)

I'm not going to lie, the 30% off ELFA sale hurts. I have so many spaces that I want to ELFA: master bedroom closet, the boys' closet, and the garage. The Container Store keeps emailing me, and then I open the email, see the images with the perfectly organized closets, then I sigh and remind myself that if I continue on this new path, I will be able to ELFA all the spaces I want to next year without any guilt or having to cut my food budget or recalculate everything and put groceries on a credit card. If I choose not to ELFA any of the spaces I want now, then I can save money, have an emergency fund, and go on a vacation this summer. I could be out of debt, so I am going to unsubscribe from the Container Store emails. I will miss them. They make me feel like something is happening in my life.

But that is part of my whole problem; I feel like the retail stores are my friends, and it gives me something to do when I feel bored or lonely. I look at the web sites, maybe go into a store and they help me plan my space, but that is not friendship or community; it is sales, so this week I focused on behaviors that helped me reach my goals.

Better Choices:

1) When I was feeling lonely or bored, I sent a few friends an email saying happy new year.
2) When a friend wanted to pop in at the last moment, I said yes.
3) I discussed financial goals with my husband, and we went to a resale shop to start looking for a ceiling fan, but did not buy anything.
4) I went to a library lego night with my son, and checked out a great book.
5) I unsubscribed from the email lists of three tempting retailers: Container Store (i love you, but I need some space), L' occitane en Provence, and Lowes.
6) I am following the Minimalist Mom's 2014 de clutter program.

Although this is only day three, I am feeling fairly proud of myself. I will be really pleased to check in at one week and update on more better choices I have made, but so far, GO ME!

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Week one: The rules

I want to break free from my past choices and from the norm of American society. Mindless consumerism has left me feeling like a failure and trapped. I want a life not a catalogue of possessions and updates. I want my family to have security, resources, and experiences as apposed to debt, bills, and stress. We are not too deep in to turn this around; I can make better choices and save money.

I will not buy anything new for 2014, but there are a few exceptions:

1) Food
2) Uniforms and shoes for my boys in August. My boys get one pair of shoes a year and a pair of sandals in the summer. I will look in three resale stores first before I buy anything new though.
3) Hygienic and household cleaning products. I do hope to make some of these myself this year, especially counter spray and window/ mirror cleaner.
4) DIY materials, after I have looked in three resell places first and waited a month to purchase it.

Penalty Box: Anything clothing or DIY item I buy new, even after a month of waiting and looking at three resell stores, will be taxes at 100% with the money going into a savings account to spend on experiences not material possessions. 

After typing that, I feel sad. I want so badly to be able to pop in IKEA and but some little something for the house, or go to the Container Store and ELFA something. There are so many things I want to do this year to the house, but all these desires have left me with 10,000.00 in debt and a really empty social life.

I know that if I want to have a better quality of life and more choices I need to stop being a consumer and start living my life. I want to get emails from friends, not advertisement. I want community not consumerism. So, these are the rules, and I will be back next week to update on how my life has changed one week into this project and how I feel now that I can't hide my feelings with shopping. My greatest fear is that without this coping mechanism, I will overindulge with some other area of my life, but that is part of this journey.