Monday, January 31, 2011

January Goals Recap

  1. Track my spending --Pass--sort of.
  2. Have 10 No Spend Days Fail--not exactly sure.
  3. Pay off credit card--Pass!
  4. Get tax information ready to take to accountant   Pass (almost).  I still have some receipts at home but that's it. 
  5. Finish will paperwork and make appointment with attorney Fail--almost pass, very close!
  6. Add $500 to savings Fail!  We had to take $200 out of savings.  Hopefully better next month.
  7. Finish W-2 for my employee Pass
2 Passes, 3 fails, and 2 almost passes.  I know that almost shouldn't count but it kind of does in a way.  I will try to do better in February.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

February Plan

I'm going to participate in my limited spending plan for February.

  • $100 for me for spending money
  • $100 for Y for spending money
  • $100 for miscellaneous spending for month--oil changes, hair cut for daughter, etc.
  • $350 for grocery budget
My goals for the month are as follows:
  • Stick to above spending plan
  • File Taxes
  • Give will information to attorney
  • File for money on dependent flex account
  • Save at least $500

ETA:  Y agreed to $125 for February, not $100.  Oh well, this is still much better than what its been.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Surprise Payday and other Ramblings

I logged into our bank account today and I saw Y's paycheck.  I thought that he got paid on the 1st and 15th of the month but it must be the 15th and end of the month.  His paycheck was in there and showed as available but the date wasn't until 1/31.  I took care of a couple bills that I hadn't paid yet for January including our mortgage and last Verizon bill.

I  committed to doing a no spend month for February and I've been thinking about it constantly.  I am anxious about trying to go an entire month without spending money on any extras.  Y committed to keeping all of his spending for the month to $100.  I think that I should maybe do the same for me.  It shouldn't be so scary to think about not going out for lunch or buying a soda even one time in February.  Wow!  This should be a wake up call that I'm really attached to money.  Does anybody else have the same apprehension about doing a no spend month?

Friday, January 28, 2011

New Health Insurance

Y started a new job the end of December.  We started health insurance with his new employer the first of the year.  I finally got my insurance cards this week.  My daughter needs her 18 month check up now so the cards came just in time.  I was looking at the coverage and its very good.  We have a $400 deductible per individual with a $25 copay per visit. 

We flexed $1000 for medical needs this year.  I hope that we use the entire $1000 for flex.  I'm not planning on getting pregnant or having any other medical issues.  (You can laugh here, who actually plans for other medical issues?).  I'm just concerned that the $1000 may have been too much. 

I did go to my chiropractor this morning and I had to pay $27.  $25 copay plus $2 for coinsurance?  I don't yet have the information for our flex benefits to turn in the copay.  Who knows when we'll get that.  We also flexed $5000 for dependent care expenses.  Last year we flexed the same amount but I set it up so that we got the amount that we were flexing weekly deposited into our checking account. 

I'm grateful that we have good health insurance and flex benefits. 

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Preparing for No Spend Month

A couple weeks back, I told Sharon that I would take part in her February No Spend Challenge.  I've toyed with the idea off and on and I'm willing to do it.  I'm going to try to get my husband to participate in the challenge, well, at least, partially.  I'm going to give him $100 for the month to spend as he chooses.  I am going to stay within my grocery budget of $350. 

To be honest, this really scares me.  When I go a couple weeks without buying something, I tend to start thinking about all this stuff that I need.  I am going to make one exception to the month.  It's my friend's birthday in Feb. and we talked about going snowboarding together.  If we're able to make it happen, I'm going to take advantage of it.  I have a snowboard but I've never went snowboarding so I'm super excited to try it. 

I will keep you posted on how this goes.  Wish me luck!

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Forgot My Checkbook

Today is my payday and I forgot my checkbook at home.  I know that I'm old-fashioned and still balance an actual checkbook instead of Excel but I like doing it that way.  I took it out of my purse last night and was calculating how much I would have after the bills are paid.  Of course, I didn't even think of it this morning when I was rushing around to get ready.

I want to know how much I will have after the paying our gigantic cell phone bill, car payment, Direct TV bill, mortgage and life insurance.  It used to be that most of our bills were due at the beginning of the month but it seems like they're mostly due at the end of the month now.  I think I prefer the beginning so I can get things paid right away.  I don't like waiting for bills at the end of the month.  Just a personal preference, I guess. 

Do you still use a checkbook or another computer program to balance your checking account?

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Couples Who Don't Merge Finances

Yesterday I wrote about how I merged my finances with Y.  It was definitely not painless but I feel that it was worth it overall.  I have a definite opinion on married couples who don't merge money.

I think that couples who don't merge money hardly ever get to where they want to be in the long run.  From what I've seen, couples who don't merge finances usually don't make a plan to get out of debt and build savings for important big purchases in the future like a house.  We have friends who are in this predicament.  I will refer to them as A and B.  A had a lot of debt entering the marriage and B didn't have any debt.  A is still paying on her debt and B ends up paying for most of the things that come up.  If they go out to eat, the person who initiated the going out, pays for the meal or drinks.  A wrecked her car and didn't have the money to pay for a new car so B ends up paying for it.  B complains behind A's back about paying for her car while he drives an old car.  If they are going to visit family, the person whose family they are visiting ends up paying for the trip.  They aren't able to save jointly for big expenses because whose fun money should the savings come out of?  Should A pay as much into savings because she is paying her debt off?  Should A have worked more in college to avoid the huge debt that she is in?  If B would have helped pay off her debt, they would be debt-free by now and saved a boatload on interest. 

They are our good friends and we see this on a constant basis.  I think that if they had merged their finances when they got married and treated the entire debt as their debt, they would be in a far better place financially. 

Note--I don't share this opinion of couples who keep their own accounts for personal spending and have a joint account for bills and savings.  They are still working toward a common goal together.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Merging Finances

Y and I merged our finances as soon as we were married.  We didn't really talk about it before but we had been together a long time (4 years) by the time we got married.  Two months prior to us getting married, I added a cell phone onto my plan for him and I paid the bill.  We got engaged that month so I didn't worry about him paying me back for it or anything.  Before we got married, I told Y that I had to have my own savings account so if things went badly, I would have my own means to get out of the relationship.  Side note--I watched my mom be in an abusive relationship for years without a way out and I vowed that I would never let the same happen to me.

Y and I were married and I moved across the country to be with him.  I had banked at a regional bank that didn't have a branch where we were going to live.  I closed my account and got cash and a cashier's check.  When we got to our new location, I immediately wanted to deposit my money so I just deposited it in Y's account.  He added me onto his checking and savings accounts and I pretty much took over the accounting.  Y had never maintained a balance before me.  I never did open my own accounts but I did keep a credit card in my name only with a 20K balance limit with a 0 balance for emergencies.  I figured that 20K would get me a long ways away in the event I needed to run fast. 

15 months after we were married, Y went to Iraq.  Then I really took over our finances.  Y is fine with it and he prefers it.  We usually keep a $500 buffer in our checking account so we have enough to cover gas or groceries or other expenses.  When it hits $500, it is like $0 for me. 

Y and I have the same financial goals and we are on the same page (mostly) with finances.  There have certainly been ups and downs with finances but it mostly works out.  I try to update him with where we are at in checking and savings on a regular basis. 

Monday, January 17, 2011

January 2011 2nd Week Spending

Monday 1/10  13.89 Headlight
                       46.20 Gas
Tuesday 1/11  12.26 Eating Out (networking lunch--business expense)
                       29.88 Groceries
Wednesday 1/12  No Spend Day
Thursday 1/13  9.23 Eating Out
                       65.11 Norwex  (ouch!)
Friday 1/14  11.59 Drycleaning
                    45.02 Gas
                    11.66 Groceries
Saturday 1/15 5.00 Drinks
Sunday 1/16 12.00 Eating Out

I almost didn't do this post because I know that it looks really bad but I do need to keep myself honest.  I need to quit eating out.  On Tuesdays, I eat out for a networking lunch.  I think that I need to pay for this out of my business account and not count that.  Today is going to be a no spend day. 

Friday, January 14, 2011

Spinning Wheels

I had hoped to make great progress in January with our savings goals.  It doesn't look like that's going to happen.  I feel that we're simply spinning our wheels.  We're still dealing with some unexpected expenses from moving.  We had a $310 phone bill this month because we transferred companies and have to pay for our phones.  We should have $200 in rebates coming for them but who knows when that's going to show up.  I sent the rebates in the mail yesterday because I had to include a copy of our first bill with them.  I'm sure that they hope people are going to forget about the rebates by the time they get their first bill.  Yeah, right, like we would forget about $200!

My husband (whom I will now refer to as Y) finally got paid today.  This is his first paycheck and I don't think that its a full paycheck since he started 12/20 and he is paid on the 1st and 15th.  Y hasn't gotten a paystub yet so we don't know how many hours he was paid for, if they took out flex deductions and retirement, or if he is getting the rate that he was told at his hire. 

I wanted to transfer $500 into savings this month and I've already transferred $200 out of savings.  I will probably have to do a little bit more.  I don't know if I will be able to pay back what I took out of savings this month, let alone put more into savings.  I did pay the credit card bill with the propane on it so that is on the bright side.

I just need to remind myself that we're having some pretty major unexpected expenses this month and dealing with a shortfall of money due to Y's new job.  We can get through this and next month will be much better.  March is even a 3 paycheck month for me so we have plenty to look forward to. 

Happy weekend!

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Property Taxes

I met with the property tax assessor this morning.  He had sent us a letter requesting an appointment in December and I put it aside.  After talking to my sister about it, I decided that it would probably be best to call him for an appointment. 

He was very nice and just wanted to make sure that there hadn't been any changes to the property since we purchased it for about 60K more than its assessed at.  He had the year of our house wrong and the acreage slightly off.  He told me that it might increase our property taxes slightly.  Our property taxes are only $750 annually which I consider really cheap.  If they increase to $900 or $1000, oh well.  It's still a helluva lot cheaper than what we paid previously.

For the really good news (I think), he said that the property taxes were paid for 2010.  We had an acreage discrepency with the property and the previous owner had said at one point that he would pay for 2010 property taxes but that was never written into the purchase addendum.  In fact, at closing, we had a credit for property taxes because we were supposed to be responsible for the 2010 taxes. 

I tried to look it up online to make sure that 2010 taxes were paid but their site is antique and I couldn't get it to work.  I hope he was right and the property taxes have been paid.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Missing Money

My husband was supposed to get a reimbursement check from his old employer and I kept wondering where it was.  I think I found it.  I talked to my old neighbor today and he told me that he had a lot of mail for us from the people who moved into our old house.  Ummm, we put a change of address in with the post office.  Why aren't they forwarding it?  Anyway, he told me that there are quite a few letters from my husband's old employer so hopefully there is a check in there.  Will keep you posted...

ETA:  There was $106.66 in checks in the missing mail.  Yay!!

Monday, January 10, 2011

Direct TV = Terrible Service

We live in the country so cable isn't an option.  We decided on going with Direct TV because they had better HD options than Dish Network.  We were warned about their terrible customer service by my in-laws and my husband's grandpa.  They all said that we would be sorry that we went with them.  Well, after my half hour phone call yesterday, they are so right!

I called yesterday because I had a question about an HD channel.  It was answered in a very satisfactory manner (not the answer that we wanted but still very politely dealt with).  While I was on the phone with them, I asked if they had received the rebates we were eligible for.  They had to transfer me to billing.  That's fine.  After much ado, Lori in billing told me that the advertised price of $34.99 for the package that we got doesn't include some things.  There was $15 of items that were extra that we had--like an HD receiver and extra DVR.  Ok, I get that.  We wanted those things.  She then tells me that we didn't qualify for a $5 rebate per month for 24 months because we didn't do the rebates via internet.  I called in to do them because we didn't have our internet set up yet.  WTF!!!!!!!  I talk to her supervisor and he tells me that they're not able to change it now.  I tell him that I understand what he's saying but that this is completely shitty customer service!  I ask if we can listen to the recording from when we signed up for the service.  They tell me that I have to go online to request it.  I know that they didn't tell us that it was going to cost us $5 per month for 2 years if we didn't do the rebates online. 

$120 for our stupidity and I'm sure as hell going to cancel when our contract is up. 

Sunday, January 9, 2011

January 2011 First Week Spending

Sat 1/1  Snowplowing $120
Sun 1/2 No Spend Day
Mon 1/3 Smokes 5.02
Tues1/4  Sympathy Cards  7.04
             Car Wash and Snack  8.99
Wed 1/5 Gas 41.70
Thurs 1/6  Drinks 20.00
                Bowling 6.96
Fri 1/7  Eating Out 9.00
            23.23 Beer
Sat 1/8 Groceries 20.49
Sun 1/9 No Spend Day

Only 2 no spend days total this far.  If I count 1/1 as a no spend day, it would be 3.  I'm not sure to count snowplowing as an expense because its more of a bill that I have to pay regardless.  It was only that expensive that once because the guy who plows us out had to come over with a tractor and he was out there for about 2 hours. 

Friday, January 7, 2011

New Pay Schedule

Hubby and I are trying to get used to his new pay schedule.  I'm paid every two weeks.  We use my checks to pay the regular bills and investing.  The items that are usually paid out of my check are the mortgage, car payment, car insurance, life insurance, IRA's, student loan payment and most of the utilities.  My husband was paid weekly and we used his checks for daycare, escrow account, gas, groceries, and other miscellaneous spending. 

Hubby is now paid twice per month so we're trying to adjust.  He has been at his job since 12/20 and he will get his first paycheck on 1/15.  There is a two week lag in his pay.  That's a long time to wait for a paycheck.  He was paid from his previous employer for his vacation time but I used that money to pay off our credit card. 

We've really cut down on miscellaneous spending but of course we still have daycare and gas.  I was paid on 12/23 and I stocked up on groceries at that time so we are only buying milk, eggs and produce. 

It's hard to get used to a different pay schedule.  Any suggestions?

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

2 Unexpected Deposits

Yesterday when I opened my bank account online, I found a deposit for $1,078.90.  It was from my husband's previous employer.  I really thought that they weren't going to pay him for his vacation pay but they came through.  I earmarked $1000 of it to go toward our credit card this month.  I also had a deposit today from our flex medical account of $18.98.  This was the remaining balance of the $1000 that we had put into our flex medical account for 2010.  The reason that I was a little bit surprised is because it was for contacts that were purchased after my husband's last day of work.  The flex account was under his employer.  When I filed the claim online, I was honest about the date of service for the contacts.  I think that the claim was supposed to be before his last day but they may have counted his vacation.  Not too sure...

Tomorrow is payday for me.  I'm so excited.  This will be the first paycheck without health insurance coming out of my check.  Also, the amount of the deduction for social security will be going down 2%.  Yay!

Monday, January 3, 2011

January 2011 Goals

  1. Track my spending
  2. Have 10 No Spend Days
  3. Pay off credit card
  4. Get tax information ready to take to accountant
  5. Finish will paperwork and make appointment with attorney
  6. Add $500 to savings
  7. Finish W-2 for my employee
I've already started tracking my spending for the month so I'm on pace there.  I'm not self-employed but with what I do there are a ton of tax write-offs for me.  It is a pain to have receipts and expenses organized enough to file.  We do not usually carry a balance on our credit card but I have to pay for the stupid propane this month.  The only money that I spent all weekend was on snow removal which was inevitable.  I didn't leave my place from Thursday afternoon to this morning due to two huge storms that were back to back.  It was a very boring New Year's.  To make matters worse, my husband was stuck at work so we didn't even get to smooch for New Year's. 

Saturday, January 1, 2011

1/1/11 Networth

Assets
Savings  42,627.97
Retirement  13,153.44 
Stocks  8,473.29
Liabilities                           Rate
Mortgage  87,078.83            4.25%
Student loan  7,491.97          4.5%
Car  18,600.00                     0%

We bought our house in December so from here I have a solid game plan of what we have and where we're going.  We have a few things to pay for in January including our recent propane purchase so I just hope that we go in a positive direction for January.  The retirement is mine alone.  My husband has a 401K and Roth IRA as well but I don't have access to the amounts in those accounts.  They total around 15K.