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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
I've decided to do something a little different this year. I am putting us through a series of challenges to improve our financial standing and save money for badly needed renovations and a new car (in five years). My goal is to be able to save $15,000 for home renovations in 1 1/2 years, and $30,000 for a new car in five years time. So, in the manner of Ms. Vaz-Oxlade, here's the plan...

Me Set up retreat on budget and search Bible for guidance.

Cut Spending Challenge
Both Set starting budget together
Use Budget Binder and jar system
Freeze credit cards and debit cards
Review simple living notes. Watch the rest of “Simple Living”.
Me Write down what bills are due when (DH does most of the bill paying and money stuff here. I want to learn how. He is having issues with control I think.)
Record transactions in Quicken for full month
DH Find a way to reduce bank fees – consolidate accounts? Change type of account?
DH Pantry inventory. DH doesn't have a clue how to do these things. It's time he learned. He doesn't realize how much time all this planning takes.
Plan lunches for himself so he doesn't have to buy them at work.
DH Plan menu and grocery shop once for the entire week.
Both Discuss budget once a week in pleasant atmosphere.
Brainstorm ways to eat cheaper.
Both Cleaning schedule. Set one up and stick to it!
Learn how to do stain removal.
Both Medical costs...ways to get medicine, Co-enzyme Q10 cheaper. Research alternative medicine we can try for free.
Me Start practicing meditation every morning.
Research cheap/free ways to exercise in winter. Do one this week.
Exercise DVDs. Use every day.
Both Clothing – Go through wardrobe and come up with different combinations for outfits.
Figure out upcoming clothing needs/costs for next 6 months.

Budget Booster Challenge
Both Hobbies – Brainstorm ways to do hobbies cheaper
Brainstorm ways to make hobbies pay for themselves. - craft sales, Internet
Price display equipment for fibre work.
Me Track time during the day
Create a daily schedule to include exercise, frugal activities, & fibre work and stick to it. Research starting a business. W.E.S. and Embroidery Canada articles. Talk to others in business
Set weekly goals for fibre work and DO IT!
Pull together a resumé.

Future Plan Challenge
DH Make a list of all renos that need to be done to the house to sell it.
Research cost of doing renos. Write down estimates.
Both Plan expenses for next 6 months and put in budget.
Re-assess January expenses and come up with more money saving strategies to try. One new strategy per week.
Both De-clutter stuff we don't want in the house.
Sell stuff on-line or hold a garage sale.
Both Redo wills and power of attorney.
List all renos and estimated costs.
Make a decision as to which reno to tackle first...together! By now we should have $500 to do something with. Let's use it wisely!
Me Look at the art side of fibre work. Talk to people re: exhibitions, etc.
DH Cost out move
Both Discuss budget once a week in pleasant atmosphere.

Relationship Rescue Challenges

Both Get creative! Set budget for entertainment and try to do as much as you can with it.
Plan some fun. List 3 ways we can have fun for free this month.
Pick one and make it happen this week
Dining out – brainstorm ways to decrease costs of dining out. Do one this week in conjunction with free entertainment challenge.
Learn to give each other massages.
Motorbike is a trust issue...rent a motorbike for a day trip...just to try. DH loves motorbikes and I am death on them, having had a cousin almost die in a motorcycle accident. But I think I need to get over this.
Dance classes

That's it so far. I'm thinking we need to take turns on the relationship rescue challenges, but I have a feeling DH will leave them all to me. He can't be bothered to put any effort into the relationship. He's just too lazy by half that way.
 

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Wow you go girl, that's an amazing plan! Let us know how it works out along the way.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Well I started today. I talked to a friend about the cooking end of things, and she was quite surprised that DH and DD#2 were not in the kitchen more. So tonight I lowered the boom and told them they were cooking one night each week. AND they were planning the meal and making sure the ingredients were on my weekly grocery shopping list. Last I heard, tomorrow night looks like homemade pizza...

I also drew up an ideal budget, and then fiddled with it to get a budget we could live with. The ideal budget definitely requires I earn $500 more per month. But that's like a part-time part-time job! I just don't want the travel, lunch and dress costs associated with a job...even part-time. So I spent time working on another quilt top for sale.

My Fabricland membership was due for renewal, and it's $5 off if I do it before Jan. 1st. So I did it today. I used the $5 saved to purchase some 100% cotton off the clearance table for border and backing for the baby quilt I'm working on.

I also set up the file drawer in the computer desk to handle all our receipts for this year. Each category of the budget has it's own file, and there is a file at the front of the drawer for current receipts/bills that haven't been entered in Quicken yet. This will save DH and I countless hours running around looking for receipts to enter in Quicken! We just need to get in the habit of popping them in the front file, so we can enter them later at our convenience. I expected some resistance from DH about this change, but was pleasantly surprised not to receive any. The thing is, on the surface it looks like duplication of files. We have some category files in his office already. But that drawer is overloaded. I suggested the computer desk files be for current files for this year. The office files can be for older files. DH says he is only keeping 2 years worth of files. I think that's sufficiently long to keep receipts and bills...unless it's a big ticket item and you want it for warranty...in which case it should be in the warranty file!

Jean
 

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oh, I'm so impressed - you have no idea!
 

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Sounds like you have a good plan and achievable goals for you and your family. I do not know about Canada, but a few places that I have found affordable supplements like Coenzyme Q-10 are Costco and www.puritanspride.com

I hope that this helps you some.
 

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I don't know how old your children are but this is what I did concerning meal time. I got so tired of the kids not wanting to eat what was on the table even though it was something they liked. They always wanted something different. I got so I got feed up, it was a battle and major frustration everynight. I had to find a solution and figured that if they where more involved they would be more willing to eat it. So I took some printable magnet sheets and printed out the names of recipes everyone liked and the page number from the recipe book they came from. I also wrote the following categories, soups, entres, salads, side dishes, main meal, salad dressings, desserts and the days of the week. Took a pair of scissors and cut all of them out. Since they are magnetic I stuck them all on the fridge door by category. Under the categories I put the days of the week. My two girls have to get together and choose the meals for the week and accounting for leftovers so there is no waste. They have to make sure we either have the ingredients or put them on the shopping list When I initially did this I worked full time. So eventually I added to the task and asked them what night they were willing to prepare the meal also. It worked out great. Now that I am home full time I do the cooking but I still have them do the menu. There is no more fighting about meals, I love it! Mind you my daughters are 14 & 18 so they were old enough for the resposibility. Now that I am working on being frugal they will have to be more price consious in their selections. I think it is great training for their future. It won't be long before they are out on their own so I want to make sure they know how to budget, cook and get by with not much if need be. I often bring my daughters grocery shopping and give them the task of counting as we go along and crossing off the items on the list. I tell them what the budget is and they have to make sure we don't go over. If we do they have to choose what is not necessary for that week so we are on budget when we get to the cash. So far I don't think we have had to put anything back, they write everything as we go. I want them to know what things cost.
 
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Discussion Starter #7
Shortcake: Good idea! I think I will give them a budget for their meal. That will keep them in check.

Auntie2many: Thanks for the Costco heads up. We have one here, but have never been able to justify the membership. but with Co-enzyme Q10 costing me $15/mth. it might be worth it...that's $180/year. A membership is $50. I wonder if I'd save that much? I find most things cheaper elsewhere in the city. Even the CoQ10 I can buy 10% off if I buy it from a local store the first Monday of the month. So it's really only $160/year.

Blumpett: I'm impressed! Let's see how far we can go with it. I'm hoping I haven't bitten off more than I can chew!

Tonight DH and I sat down and looked at the new budget. We won't be able to implement it until mid-month. DH doesn't know what his new paycheck will be. He has a pay increase and a reduction in income taxes coming on it. Until then we won't be able to do the jar thing.

DH also looked over Ms. Vaz-Oxlade's budget sheet and is having difficulties figuring out how she's adding things up. I suggested he take the weekend to look it over. He's really tired. But if we don't implement that part of her program until mid-month, he'll have two weeks to check it out.

It bothers me he can't get it to add up. He's taken accounting and runs a public institution...and has kept finances for large organizations. I'm hoping this is a minor glitch. We may end up having to devise a budget off Ms. Vaz-Oxlade's, but it sure is a good start to one.

Tonight we're going to bed early. I washed my metre of fabric for the quilt border. It cost me $2.50, and I'm sure I won't use all of it. Still, it's a good solid blue that will come in handy on other quilts.

Jean
 

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Discussion Starter #8
Credit cards and debit cards are put away.

Went through simple living notes last night and added a few challenges to the above list. More lifestyle ones than financial ones.

DH made supper last night. DD#2 will be making supper tonight. I am still getting over my cold. I feel very weak. I'm heading off to rest.

Jean
 

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Wow, this is inspiring... I may have to do something like this too. Grat job! Quick question though, is "Simple Living" a video or something..you said that you were going to watch it again?
 

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Discussion Starter #11
"Simple Living" is a TV show I bought the DVDs to. It's hosted by Wanda Urbanska and produced by her husband Fred Levering. I'm going to try and link to it here.

I've also made notes from various simple living books I've read, that I refer to and try to incorporate into our lifestyle. For example, I'm going to try a few "No Red Meat Weeks" this year, and see if the family even notices.

Today I had DH check the Net for prices on different bank accounts. He claims we have the best deal going. I don't think so. I already checked this last week. He's being lazy about changing things. In terms of fees, we're pretty good, but we could earn more interest if we just changed our attitude set point about money. If we kept $1500 in the account as a base amount, instead of $100, we could earn interest and have fees waived. But we'd have to go to another bank. He just can't get his head wrapped around the $1500 base amount. He's thinking "We'll never get that." Well, if he continues to think like that, we never will!

I also had him do an analysis on our RRSPs. I was most disappointed. In 15 years of investing in mutual funds, we've made a whooping 4-5%. We may as well have put them in GICs. We'd have earned more. And these are supposed to be professionally managed funds. Says something about the industry if you ask me.

Jean
 

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Discussion Starter #12
Did a money count tonight for the second time in 2007. We're not off by much at all, much to my surprise! I'm always nabbing a couple bucks for tea out, or a quarter for the locker at the gym. But DH claims it's not bad if we figure in a tea out a week for me...which is about what it's been.

Also redid the RRSP calculations with DH. Turns out we made 6% per year. Much better than he originally told me. However, still not very good. I can't believe in such a good market we did so abysmally. I am majorly ticked at my financial advisors. And seriously thinking of just getting out of the market.

Jean
 

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Keep Going!

I noticed that you said you were going to read the Bible for guidance. May I suggest crown.org as a spiritual resource for financial planning? I find their advice to be spiritually sound.

Congratulations on not just thinking about a plan, but actually making a plan and starting to put it into practice!
 

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I also set up the file drawer in the computer desk to handle all our receipts for this year. Each category of the budget has it's own file, and there is a file at the front of the drawer for current receipts/bills that haven't been entered in Quicken yet. This will save DH and I countless hours running around looking for receipts to enter in Quicken! We just need to get in the habit of popping them in the front file, so we can enter them later at our convenience. I expected some resistance from DH about this change, but was pleasantly surprised not to receive any. The thing is, on the surface it looks like duplication of files. We have some category files in his office already. But that drawer is overloaded. I suggested the computer desk files be for current files for this year. The office files can be for older files. DH says he is only keeping 2 years worth of files. I think that's sufficiently long to keep receipts and bills...unless it's a big ticket item and you want it for warranty...in which case it should be in the warranty file!


Jean
We also do this, but at the end of the year we take one of DH's shoe boxes and put everything in it and label it with the year. It gets stored in our basement. THen if we need something we have easy access to the box, but it is not cluttering up our computer drawers.
 

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Discussion Starter #15
mcphlips: Great idea! Thanks!

forHISglory: Thanks for reminding me about Crown. I've used them before, but I could use a re-read.

DH and I set up our Budget Binder last night and figured out what we would put in the jars Gail Vaz-Oxlade uses. DH figured out her system. She takes a monthly figure, multiplies by 12 and divides by 52. That gives her those weird numbers. She goes weekly; we get paid bi-monthly. So it's going to take a bit of finagling. I figured the amounts out on a weekly basis. That will be put on the jars as a reminder. We've cut $400 out of our cash budget for this month. We'll put money in for each paycheck, but we'll be counting up and discussing the budget weekly.

We've also started discussing DD#2's birthday present. She turns 21 the end of the month. Means we'll have a fancy birthday party for her, where she can invite whomever she wants.

DD#2 also wants to do a lower fat, lower sugar holiday season next year. I am jumping for joy. I'm taking my recipes into my nutritionist for help with a makeover. I'm going to try some fiddling around with them during this year and see if I can get them right. Lower fat, lower sugar will mean lower cost in this case.

DH admitted that he, too, was responsible for the money count being out. He sometimes buys lunch with transportation money. I'm concerned about that because I thought I was giving him enough money for repairs as well as gas, and we've had to pilfer savings to cover repairs this year. So I'm hoping the Budget Binder will tell all on this.

Jean
 

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Discussion Starter #16
Oh...update on the cooking situation. DD#2 is sick too, so DH cooked again last night. He wanted me to tell him how to cook, when I could barely lift my head off the pillow. I told him to just do stir fry. I didn't have the energy to teach him how to make soup ...which he decided he wanted to start at 4 p.m. I told him if he wants to be able to fill in while I'm sick, he's going to have to take lessons when I'm well. He agreed. We had pork stir fry...his way.

Jean
 

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Discussion Starter #17
Today was a full day. DH and I worked together to do a complete pantry inventory. He kept looking at me and shaking his head. I made him write down everything as I found it. I assured him I only did this once a month!

It's a good thing we did the inventory though. I found some frozen pea soup I'd forgotten about. We came up with 7 menu items for the week no problem. Then we compiled the grocery list together. Then we had a nap! We're getting old. We need breaks every now and then!

After our nap we headed out grocery shopping for the week...at 4:15 p.m. on New Year's Eve. Ahuh...all I can say is 'kudos' to Superstore for having every till open when we hit the check-out. We were out in record time!

We used the jar money for groceries and came in under budget $11. That's good. Hopefully we won't have to go shopping till next Monday now.

I came home and found DH had used some groceries for our New Year's Eve feast during the week. Hmmm...some quick improvisation followed. It worked.

I was going to make supper tonight, but frankly, I was just too tired to do that plus prepare snack food for the evening, especially after all that other stuff today. I'm getting better, but I'm not 100% well yet. So I just made the snack food and we skipped supper. I don't think anyone has missed it. The snack food is holding up fine. Dilled hummus, crackers, mini-bagels, hm raspberry cream cheese, shrimp cocktail spread, veggie sticks, honeyed nuts...and non-alcoholic punch.

We opted to go without alcohol this New Year's Eve. I'm not supposed to have it anyway. DH doesn't like it. DD#2 and her BF have some of their own stashed in her room. But frankly, they aren't big drinkers either.

I left DD#2 and DH in the living room watching a Ninja Turtle movie of DD#2's. Her BF is up playing on her computer. And me? I'm playing on my computer...heheheh. I probably won't make it till midnight, but that's okay. I'm still getting over this bug.

Jean
 

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I soooooooo needed this! What Great Inspiration!:applause:

I am adding this thread to my favorites!

Thanks Jean :)
 

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Discussion Starter #19
bee9984: I'm doing a more detailed update on my blog. I'm thinking I might do a weekly summary here. I keep finding new challenges for us to try. This week, though, I am seriously focusing on my grocery budget. Today I want to do some baking, but also go through my recipes to make sure I have ones that are fairly cheap to make, but still have enough variety, and are healthy. I want to come up with a 2 or 4 week rotation (haven't decided which yet) that my nutritionist can live with. So I'm going to run some recipes past her this month when I see her as well.

Jean
 

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Discussion Starter #20 (Edited)
Some updates:

~ found a box to put 2007 receipts in. Thanks for the idea! I am still keeping it close to me though, because I want to do an indepth analysis of the grocery receipts to figure out how much we're spending in each of the different food categories. That might help me get a handle on key areas to focus on for cost cutting measures.

~ Emailed Puritan's Pride about shipping Q10 to Canada.

~ DH says he'll cook whatever I put on the menu on the weekend. Another cop-out, but I'll let him get away with it for now, until we get things a little more under control and out of the vague arena. Once we know his income for sure, I'll encourage him to plan and execute what he plans.

~ Printed out Crown.org's scripture references related to money management. Now if I could only find them... They will be my meditation pieces for the next while.

~ Mega-cooked Chicken Noodle Soup and Tuna Fish Surprise this week. Two meals of CNS in the freezer, and a meal of TFS.

~ Organized 2008 daytimers. All my daytimers were free this year! One was a gift from my sister, one was a gift from my hairdresser, and the last one was a monthly one I printed off the Internet.

~ Printed some resistant band exercises off the Net (About.com) and used them to exercise yesterday instead of going to the gym.

~ Sewing another quilt top for a baby gift.

~ Found out DH is getting a fair chunk of retro pay sometime this month. It's going straight to our EF.

~ Found some laundry and dish detergent cheap at Wal-mart. Also, ladies supplies were on sale half price.

~ De-cluttering has begun in earnest. We're devoting Saturday to de-cluttering the kitchen.

~ went with DH to a meeting last night. He dropped me at the mall. I walked to the library after shopping and found some friends to chill with. they even fed me chocolates! So free entertainment and 'loop' errands.

That's it so far. Thanks for all the help everyone! Anything else anyone can think of?

Jean
 
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