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.