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Archive for May, 2007

May update

May 31st, 2007 at 01:56 pm

I am really excited. A couple of weeks ago DH and I sat down and came up with a plan to get our finances in better shape. The number one goal was to be better about our budget. This month we did great.

These are the areas we were monitoring along with our ending totals:
Entertainment: 0
Dining out: +6
Study expenses: +5
Personal care: 0
Hobbies/Leisure: 0
Household/home improvement: +8
Groceries: -16
Gas/auto: -29

We only had two categories over for a total of -$27 dollars. Although yesterday while we were running errands DH and I spent in the gas and grocery categories knowing that we would be over. Figured it was better to spend while we were already out than make a separate trip in a couple of days, just so it would be in the correct month. But I am going to subtract these from the amount available for next month.

Now being in budget is something great and exciting, but I am most happy about all the money we are transferring to our savings account. I am going to wait until June (after the next car payment is taken out), and then I'm going to drain our checking account. Since June is an even month the money will be going to our savings account which is a catch-all for our EF (fully funded), down payment fund and dining room table fund. Guess how much I'll be adding!! $818.46! And this is in addition to the $344 I added in May before we decided to do the even/odd savings. So this month we've added over $1150 to our savings account!

What a wonderful feeling. I hope next month we can do the same or even better. It would be great to throw that amount toward the cars!

Trip to the grocery store

May 30th, 2007 at 07:01 pm

Today at the grocery store I saved $6.05 using coupons. In reality, though, we saved more than that. Bacardi has these new drink mixers, they look like frozen juice, but you add alcohol to make drinks like margaritas, daiquiris, and mojitos. Anyway we like those and Winn Dixie has them on sale 2 for $5 until the 4th of July, but I went to Food Lion the other day I found them on sale 3 for $6. I thought that was a good deal, but guess how much they were at the commissary??? $.99 each! Wow, talk about a markup at those other stores. We bought two of them and used a 55 cents off coupon.

I also got some hot dogs they were normally $2 a package, but were on sale for $1 a package, then I had a $1 off two coupon, so I got two packages for half the price of one. We don't eat hot dogs that often, but it makes me wish I had more coupons!

It was a sort of impromptu/unplanned trip to the store, but we ended up doing alright. I am trying to be better about menu planning, but it's hard cause it seems like we always just make the same stuff over again. I need to get better, more diverse recipes.

New additions: $ 6.05
Previous total: $423.02
Total, since 4/15: $429.07

What the $20 challenge is to me...

May 29th, 2007 at 02:50 pm

Alright I've heard a lot of people who want to know more about the $20 challenge so here's my attempt to explain how I've approached it. First of all, it is a personal thing, ask 10 different people what they include and how they do it, you will get 10 different answers. The goal is to save money what ever way you do that is ultimately up to you.

Some have done it where you only include new ways of saving money, where, for instance, you wouldn't count the savings from coupons if you have always clipped coupons. Another interpretation is to use that $20 and use it to make money, like buying supplies to make something and sell it. Others reward themselves for doing things like exercising or not eating out by adding money to the challenge.

These are things I personally add to my challenge money:
*Money saved from coupons (I didn't clip coupons before joining this site, so technically it's a "new" savings)

*DH is the money maker in the family, I am currently tutoring part time, since it is extra money and very variable, I add that money to the challenge. If I had a 'real' job I wouldn't add that money.

*I take online surveys and add the money to the challenge (only after I have the check in my hand).

*I added the rebate from the telephone company because if it weren't for me remembering it and filling out the paperwork, we wouldn't have gotten that money.

*I DON'T add change that I find on the ground. That money just gets added to the coin jar.

I keep a running tally on the site of how much I make/save. I don't have a separate account or anything. Actually my savings is mostly virtual. It's either money that I sent to the bank or money that I didn't take out of the bank. Others actually keep their challenge money separate from their normal money (it makes it more real that way).

So ultimately just jump in and start saving! I was very surprised about how much money I saved just doing the little I did...and I've just been doing it a couple of months! Also, don't be afraid to change what the challenge means to you. If you want to try something different or like someones idea, just do it!

$20 challenge addition

May 28th, 2007 at 09:30 pm

Made my weekly runs to Walgreen's and CVS. With coupons and extra bucks I saved $22. I can't wait until I get my Walgreen's rebate back so I won't have to pay out of pocket for all my goodies. I'm a little worried though that I'm going to get addicted to all this! I am trying to be good and only get items that we'll really use, but where there are such good deals it's hard sometimes. Thankfully I have a good husband who keeps me in line, but he's also good about letting me get the deals for things we need.

New additions: $ 22.00
Previous total: $401.02
Total, since 4/15: $423.02

Another addition

May 23rd, 2007 at 06:00 pm

Got another check in the mail from doing surveys! So I have $27 more for the challenge. However, I'm only going to add $7. When I first started the challenge I added the initial $20. I now want to take that out of the tally, so I am! Smile

New additions: $ 7.00
Previous total: $394.02
Total, since 4/15: $401.02

I can't believe that in just under 6 weeks I've made/saved over $400!! And my "job" has only provided about $60 of that. Amazing.

Challenge money

May 21st, 2007 at 08:44 pm

Today was a nice day at the mailbox for me. I got two $5 checks from pinecone and a $40 check from tutoring.

New additions: $ 50.00
Previous total: $344.02
Total, since 4/15: $394.02

Good day at CVS

May 20th, 2007 at 02:04 pm

Saved $44 dollars at CVS today! They were having some good deals with Extra Bucks. I spent $20.50 on crackers and such and got about $60 worth of products free...and $10 Extra Buck to use for next time and $4 off $20 coupons.

I also got another pinecone check for $5.

New additions: $ 48.00
Previous total: $295.02
Total, since 4/15: $344.02

Results of our money date

May 17th, 2007 at 09:37 pm

DH and I sat down this afternoon and discussed our finances. I feel pretty good about the decisions we made and I am really looking forward to starting on them. Here’s what we came up with:

1. We need to be better about sticking to our budget. We have had a ‘budget’ since we got married 10 months ago, but it never really got past the tracking our expenses mode. Meaning I use Money to see where our money goes and put that in the budget, but we rarely denied ourselves if it meant going over budget in a particular category. Part of that comes from the fact that we put everything on our CC which we pay off each month. So it was spending virtual money. To make up for this we have enacted the white board system from our college days. Basically we have a white board with our most variable expenses (entertainment, groceries, dining out, etc) and the amount budgeted for them. Then after a purchase in one of these categories it is subtracted from the total budgeted. This is along the lines of an envelope system, but it allows us to still use our CC and earn cash back from those purchases.

2. We are going to open Roth IRAs for both of us and max out the contributions for 2007. We are planning on opening a Vanguard Target Retirement account since it automatically becomes more conservative as we get older and we wouldn’t have to think about it.

3. We are going to maintain at least 10,000 in our savings account as an EF. This is the minimum needed to earn the higher rate of interest, and about 3 months expenses. DH is in the military, so he’s got pretty good job security. [Since this earns pretty good interest it is also going to be the holding for our other goal of saving for a down payment, so there will more likely always be more than this available to us if needed…plus our Roth if things got REALLY bad.]

4. Once a month I am going to drain our checking account down to a safe comfort level for us. This is so that we won’t bounce the few checks we write, but also so we can earn higher interest on that money. On odd months we are going to transfer that money to help pay off our cars and on even months it is going to go into our savings/EF/down payment account. If we stick to our budget, this amount could be about 1200 a month.

5. We are using the $10,000 I got from my dad’s life insurance to cover unexpected education and travel expenses. Looking back over the last 5 months expenses, tuition and other associated educational costs were by far the biggest budget busters. We weren’t really able to plan for these expenses and they were quite significant since I was considered an out of state resident. So, having this money to cover these expenses in the future will be budget a life saver.

Money Date

May 14th, 2007 at 08:34 pm

Well DH and I are going to have a money date later this week to discuss our finances. My goals for the meeting are:

1. Go over our budget and show him where we've been spending. I enter it all in, so I have a slightly better picture, but I get bogged down in the day-to-day stuff that I don't really have a good idea of the big picture.

2. Find out how much more money we'll be getting each month. DH had been withholding taxes at a higher rate. Last month I fixed that so after the 15th we'll know how much less taxes are being withheld.

3. Figure out what to do with that money and the $230/month raise he'll be getting in the next month or so.

4. Figure out to do with $10K that we got from my Dad's life insurance money.

5. Celebrate that we paid an extra $1200 on our cars this month and now have officially reached our goal of 5 months expenses for our EF!!

We have a couple of different goals that we'll put the money towards.

1. Pharmacy school. We're planning on taking out loans for the tuition, but use cash to pay for books and other expenses.

2. Retirement accounts! I've been looking forward to opening a retirement account for a couple of months now.

3.Pay off our cars ($17K total, 9K at 5.99% and 8K at 3.59%)

4. House down payment.

Any suggestions or advice on how we should allocate that money? And I'll keep you updated on what we decide.

Also I got a check from pinecone a couple of days ago and picked up 6 cents at Winn Dixie that was left on the ground. So that'll be added to my challenge. I don't usually add change that I find, but DH made such a big deal about me picking it up that I'm going to add it!

New additions: $ 5.06
Previous total: $295.02
Total since 4/15: $300.08

Another check to add

May 10th, 2007 at 10:24 pm

Today I got a $16 check from surveyspot for taking surveys.

I've been taking surveys for just over 2 months now and have been pleasantly surprised with the money I've earned. I've already cashed out $43 cashed out and have earned another $32 or so on top of that.

New additions: $ 16.00
Previous total: $279.02
Total, since 4/15: $295.02

another update

May 8th, 2007 at 08:42 pm

$14.44 Savings at CVS (and another $4 off $20 coupon)
$5 pinecone check
$2 Greenfield Online check

New additions: $ 21.44
Previous total: $ 257.58
Total, since 4/15: $ 279.02