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Discussion Starter #1
29 OCT 2008

I WILL do this. I MUST do this. Everything is going up except my salary and there will be no raises this year. I am the sole provider of my family. I paid off my CCs last year and now I owe $10K. My journey began just this past Spring. I've made lots of progress, but have a long way to go.

The yearly expenses (sinking fund or freedom fund?) are killing me. I have to quit living under the illusion that I make enough money to pay all of my bills and still shop. There is no money for anything that is not in the budget. And that reminds me...

Woo hoo! I made my October goal. The budget for November is on paper, all expenses for the month and the year are listed wtih their due dates!

I hope to use this thread to provide motivation and commitment and encouragement, and to recognize and work through stumbling blocks.

Changes Made Thus Far

1 Gave up paper products.
2 Increased deductibles on home & auto insurance.
3 Cancelled 17 -0- balance CCs (two remaining at $10K).
4 Gave up cell phone (and I don't miss it at all).
5 Exchanged premium coffee for 8 O'Clock (is hot tea cheaper?)
6 Decreased UVerse to least expensive (will cancel now).
7 Gave up Diet Cherry Coke (but relapsed).
8 Stopped shopping at department stores and big box stores
9 Heat is set at 58 or 59.
10 Temporarily stopped retirement contributions.
11 Refinanced 7% 1st mortgage to 6% and 9.75% 2nd mortgage to 7.75%.
12 Did not book the annual Wilderness Lodge vacation at Disney for this December (sniff).
13 Homemade laundry soap (love it!)
14 Significantly decreased restaurant and fast-food spending.

Remaining Budget Questions
The mechanics of this budgeting are killing me. What do I do with the money for the yearly expenses? Put the monthly amount into a savings account? I don't know if I'm even figuring it out correctly. Save my car insurance is due 8 months from now. In order to be current, would I divide the yearly payment by 8 mos, or 12? I'm in big trouble if I'm supposed to be dividing based on when the payment is due, rather than 12 months. I don't have enough income to get caught up in that manner. Am I missing something here?

Still More Lifestyle Change to Implement
1 Daily spending log
2 Buy (?) 2 powerstrips for microwave & TV
3 Make insulated curtain for stairway to 2nd floor
4 Make insulation for hot water heater
5 Figure out insulation for back foyer area?
6 Cancel UVerse
7 No more soda
8 Learn how to use breadmaker
9 Homemade edible gifts for family
10 Keep my dd's holiday gifts simple & inexpensive
11 Use up stockpile to meet a $25 per week max grocery allowance
12 STOP SHOPPING AT THRIFT STORES
13 Frugal cooking
14 No more restaurants or fast food unless money saved from other funds

My Biggest Challenge
Stop spending money. Cure your delusion that you have enough money to spend. Those $5, $10, $20 "treats" and "bargains" add up. Not only will my financial situation improve, it will be easier to refine and maintain my newly adopted simple lifestyle.
 

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29 OCT 2008

I WILL do this. I MUST do this. Everything is going up except my salary and there will be no raises this year. I am the sole provider of my family. I paid off my CCs last year and now I owe $10K. My journey began just this past Spring. I've made lots of progress, but have a long way to go.

Stop spending money. Cure your delusion that you have enough money to spend. Those $5, $10, $20 "treats" and "bargains" add up. Not only will my financial situation improve, it will be easier to refine and maintain my newly adopted simple lifestyle.
I just wanted to pass along some encourgaging words. I think you are going in the right direction. I started my debt reduction in April, the weekend AFTER my hubby found out that we were almost $20,000 in debt ( all credit card and student loan). We have since then paid off 15,000 of debt. My biggest notice was staying out of bargin/goodwill/salvation army stores. Those $20 - $30 shopping sprees really add up. (In the back of your mind, you think you are saving soooo much money because you are not at Walmart/Mall/ etc.)

I just wanted to stop by and cheerlead you onto good financial health.

Way To Go!!!!! And keep up the good work!:wave:
 
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Shoshana,

I just wanted to say you are doing a terrific job so far. Great changes. Keep your chin up and keep going. Great lists.

Number 5:5 Exchanged premium coffee for 8 O'Clock (is hot tea cheaper?) Just wanted to let you know 8 O'Clock received top consumer reviews so good choice...lol I also stock tons of teas you can get them when they go on sale with matching coupons for a great price.

For my financial plan I add up all my separate bills , car and home insurance, car maintenance funds , my kids college and schools , books ( tons of other categories but you get the picture) and divide them by 12 and have them put into separate columns and have an accounting of each so when I need it the money is there. Hope I am making sense am tired today.

Just wanted to give you kudos !!
 
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Just wanted to pass on that you are going in the right direction! Keep up the good work!

I am still trying to figure out what to do with my yearly expenses (just car insurance right now) and my wedding savings... (getting hitched in March). So I'm not much help there. I'm also still working on sticking with my own budget too...

But good luck and keep on with the good work!
 

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Wow...and I thought my list was long! Seriously though, you have really been working hard! I am still struggling with the whole soda thing too...that one is so hard! Keep up the great work! It is so helpful seeing others working toward a similar goal Terri
 
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Discussion Starter #6
You all are so kind! I honestly thought I was just spinning my wheels. It's nice to get positive feedback.

Here are a couple of updates from this week -- I gotta stay focused on my goals.

I spent $28.5 at the grocery store -- budget amount was $25 so I had them remove the pomegranate (sp?) from receipt -- the only frivolous item. Total amount spent was $26.03. Not bad! Of course, I didn't have any cash and I'd left my checkbook in the car -- I don't use debit cards after being robbed twice. I did put this on my CC but figured out I will write a check NOW to the CC company in that amount and send it in with next month's payment.

I made Irish Steel Rolled Oats in the crockpot so when we woke up yesterday morning, breakfast was read. I loved it! I've never liked oatmeal but this is yummy. I had it in my cupboard stash.

Last night I made a meatloaf. No big deal, except I rarely eat meat so I rarely prepare it. It was in the freezer. For breadcrumbs, I used crushed and stale triscuit crackers, crushed and stale croutons, and added regular breadcrumbs. I also added the last of my garden tomatoes (had never put fresh tomatoes in a meatloaf before). It was terrific!

Ack. I was going to say I'd had three no-spend days in a row, but that wouldn't be true. Yesterday when I was teaching, I got so thirst and had a metallic taste in my mouth from medication. I did give $1.25 to a student and ask him to run to the hallway and buy me a soda. Oh well, I guess that was a bit of a necessity. I almost always bring something to drink to my classes -- and I think this was the first time in 10 years I'd actually had to stop and buy a beverage to continue teaching!

Anyway, I'm feeling pretty good about my behaviors/choices this week. Just thinking of all the cool stuff I can make from my cupboards/freezers is kind of fun.

My mom sent me a pizzelle maker as a gift. It should be arriving from Bed Bath & Beyond. Now I'll be able to make my holiday gifts.

I'm still not sure how to physically manage the yearly expenses account and if I'm going to be screwed for not dividing the amounts due by the actual number of months before the bills are due, or dividing by 12 instead because that's more affordable

Thanks for listening!
 

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Discussion Starter #7
My goals:

Priority Goal -- get out of debt and live within means while saving $$

Short Term Goals:
Stain for fence
Rain barrell
Brill push mower
Paint and new bedding/curtains for dd's bedroom

Long Term Goals
I mentioned above that I hadn't reserved our Disney World Trip this year. Instead of wasting $$ on such a good time ;), there's a more important trip that I need to prepare for. Last night as we were getting ready for bed, my 5-yr-old said, "Mama, why did you want to become my mama?" After we had this talk, she then started to cry and said that she missed her brothers and sisters. Sometimes she cries that she misses her father -- but I honestly think a part of this is mixed up with her missing any father. I know her sadness re not knowing her siblings is real -- and that it's mixed up with her trying to make sense of being adopted (been there, done that). I will take her to Guatemala to meet her family. I will. I'll always be her mom. For me, as an adoptee, that part is clear and I'm not concerned about it. I want her to know where she came from -- I want her to know her brothers and sisters. She has a big family out there, and she looks just like some of them. Her adjustment/life/understanding will be so much easier/better if she can integrate all aspects of her history, families, and cultures into her identity as she grows. There does not need to be a part of her life that is cut off and mysterious and scary.

I know this is long, and I'm probably doing a terrible job of explaining why I believe this is so important, but it is, and I need to stay focused. Otherwise, imo, I'm not being the best mother I can be to the child I love more than I could have imagined possible.

So Guatemala, in a couple of years, HERE WE COME!
 

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Sounds like you are doing great. You're more organized about your goals than I am. You're an inspiration to me. Keep up the great work you're already doing!!
 
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WOW... great job your doing! I need to work on my goals more. I think I'll go over my budget this weekend and try to get a better handle on it. Thanks for the boost.
 

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Discussion Starter #11 (Edited)
So far, this month is not turning out to be a frugal one.

I've been planning to re-do my dd's bedroom. She's 5 now, and it's the same decor from when she was an infant. I happened to go to a Gibson Girl sale (like an estate sale, but more than one 'estate' displayed within one house). I bought my dd a new bedroom set -- last weekend it was $900, and this weekend it was $370. Mattress & box spring, head & footboards, tall bureau, vanity with mirror, chair for vanity, and a night stand. It's from the 1940's and is in nearly new condition! I hated to spend the $$, but I think it will be cheaper than what I was planning to do (which is a long story not worth getting into!).

Then, of course, I had to buy a mattress pad, and I let my dd pick out her sheets and comforter. Ariel. Oh well, it matches the paint job!.

Now for the big bonus! Guess who is sleeping in HER OWN BED for the first time since she had surgery in Aug of 2005? Woo hoo!

Okay, back to the budget.

Well, I did manage to write a budget on paper. I'm still really frustrated with doing it by hand -- Mint.com does not recognize my bank and I haven't found another alternative.

I've also managed to start a spending log -- I know that I still spend too much. I've gotten thriftier in many ways, but I really haven't stopped spending money. What has changed is that I shop in second hand places instead of the malls. Cheaper in the long run, of course, but still spending...

A couple of noticeable changes in my utilities...

Gas for month of Oct: Oct was 6% colder this year. I used 19 therms this year and 23 therms last year at this time. I don't know what that translates to in terms of $$ because I'm on the budget plan. When I first bought this house my bill was $113 per month, for the past two years its been $104. I think it will be lowered next year -- well, it will be if I manage to keep the heat set on 58 or 59 all winter. So far so good! Brrrr! Oh -- I bought an insulated blanket for the hot water heater.

Electric for month of Oct: 524 kwh for 10/2008 vs 652 kwh for 10/2007. Plus, the bill was $22 less expensive in October than it was in September! I must be doing something right. I'm afraid tho' that it won't stay low. I've been using my dryer a lot more. I used to hang my clothes in the basement but they're just not drying, probably because the house is so flippin' cold and I closed the heat vents in the basement laundry room. I wonder which is cheaper - opening the vents or using the dryer.

New plans for saving $$: I've started to investigate how to make dog food and dog biscuits. OMG, I cannot believe this is ME talking!
 

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First I think your doing a wonderful job :cheer:

AS for the expenses like car insurance:

~ The first thing I did was create envelopes for them.
~ Then I broke up how much I would owe each month.
~ On the ones that I would have less time for when I was starting out, I swiped from the emergency fund the money to get me on track for a couple of the smaller ones. For a couple of the bigger ones I pulled small amounts of money from other places such as yardsaleing, selling the kids clothes to a consignment store, a few bucks swiped form the grocery fund, ect.
~ Even while I was trying to get the catch up money in the envelopes I was putting the routine monthly breakdown each month (a month early) in the envelope.

I actually pay my envelopes now before I pay my monthly bills. I've found them to easy to neglect otherwise.

Hope that helps.
 
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