Wednesday, March 30, 2011

I Love Grocery Shopping

I had a post a while back about how much I spend on groceries.  I was told in my comments that it is very possible to eat well on $250 to $300 a month for a family of 3.  I know that I overspend in this area.  I usually spend around $400 to $450.  I spend more because I love going grocery shopping.  I like looking at the produce, checking out the meat, buying ingredients to make delicious meals, and getting a good deal.  Unfortunately, I like the first three the best and getting a good deal is nice but not really why I go grocery shopping.

I admit that I rarely actually stick to a shopping list.  I will make a shopping list but I'm more the type who will have a few meals planned in my head and get the stuff to make those meals.  I will also throw other things into the cart without much or any hesitation.  I do try to steer clear of the frozen foods and munchies aisles. 

I know that proper planning and going to a few grocery stores would greatly reduce my grocery bill but for some reason I'm really not willing to do that.  If I didn't work full time, I would be much more apt to do that but I do work full time.  I know, what an excuse!  Yes, it is.  I could also buy the Sunday paper and clip coupons and spend time sorting which ones I will use and which ones coordinate with this week's sales.  My preferred method is to check out a local blog and note the deals that I want to use and print the online coupons from the link.  Much lazier and much easier. 

Is there anybody else who knowingly doesn't save as much as they could at the grocery store through laziness or just because they want the stuff thats not on sale? 

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Paying $300 for a Will

I had a comment yesterday about how much I'm paying for our wills.  I did post a comment with an explanation but I thought I would devote a post to it because its very important to me.  My intention behind getting a will is to decide the guardian of our daughter if Y and I died.  We also had to decide on the executor and trustee of our estate.

The reason I hired an attorney instead of going online is because I want it to be solid if it was contested.  I have 575K of life insurance on myself and Y has 500K.  We need those amounts because we have one daughter and plan on one more.  If we both die, that money will go into a trust for our daughter.  At that point, we are looking at over 1M.  I don't want for somebody to want custody of my daughter to get at the money in the trust for her.

My parents are terrible with money.  In fact, they recently declared bankruptcy.  They also have my brother living with them.  He is a sexual predator (not registered, but I know for a fact.).  I don't want them to try to fight for custody of my daughter because she would then be living with a sexual predator.  I think that they would try to fight for custody to get as much money as they could.  Yes, they really are that awful.  They don't understand why I won't bring my daughter to their house.  Um, hello!  Are you really that freakin' stupid?  Well, yes. 

$300 in my opininion is well worth the money to have an attorney draw up our wills and create a testamentary trust upon death to prevent this down the road if Y and I die while she is a minor. 

Disclosure:  I know that we don't actually appoint a guardian in our will but it will be used for consideration if we die.  It is my understanding that only a judge can appoint a guardian but the wishes of the parents are taken into consideration and followed if suitable for the child.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Unexpected Expenses

March has plagued us with many unexpected expenses.  In all fairness, I should have expected some of them and I should have known that the others were coming up at some point.  Some of the expenses that aren't usually in our budget are as follows:

Will  $300
Life insurance $255 Annual premium
Trees $230--One time fee, I told my husband to go ahead but wasn't sure when we would have to pay, not quite done yet on this one.  (We are having trees planted on our property as part of a conservation project.)
Tractor $1500
Moving Tractor $400
Tractor Repairs $200
Marie Claire subscription $10
Medical bills $50
Motorcycle Insurance $40

Ouch, very ouch!  Oh, well.  I knew that there were going to be plenty of expenses this month and I wasn't disappointed. 

Getting our will done will be our first goal for 2011 complete.  A certain part of me doesn't want to pay for it but I really want to decide what happens if both Y and I died.  We want the best for our daughter and want to dictate it from the grave if we have to.

Happy Monday!

Friday, March 25, 2011

Feeling Sorry for Those Who Don't Save?

This article talks about a woman who is 70 years old, made a good income and didn't save any money.  The only thing that she now has is her social security and between 150 and 200K equity in her home.  It's pretty hard to feel bad for her when she does have options and never bothered to save any money.  She was making 65K 25 years ago and didn't save any money.  That's a lot of money to be making in the 1980's.  Y's grandpa retired about 20 years ago and told us that the most he ever made was $13 per hour or around $27K per year.  Yet he managed to save his money and now is comfortable in retirement. 

She has the equity in her home that many elderly people would love to have.  She could sell her house and rent an apartment much cheaper.  She also has several tracts of timberland that she could sell if she needed to.  I just can't feel too sorry for her when she just made very poor financial choices in life with respect to saving.  Do I feel a little bit bad that an old lady is forced to keep working at 70?  Kind of. 

It is a good thing that social security is there for her because she would really be hurting without it.  People talk about social security going away and I hope that it never does because some people really do need it.  I know plenty of people my age who don't save anything for retirement but always seem to have the latest gadgets or clothes.  It's all about priorities.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Random Thoughts

I haven't been keeping track of my daily spending and I realize that I'm spending more because of it.  My goal for April will be to track all spending and keep to my budget better.

I need to focus on appreciating what I have in life.  I have a beautiful little girl who is talking more and more every day.  I have a nice home and a good husband.  My bills aren't overwhelming and I need to be attentive with money but not obsessive.  I think that looking from the outside into my life, I would think that I have it good but I tend to stress about things that don't really matter in the big picture of life.  I need to be more grateful.

Y and I got in a fight yesterday about money that didn't end well.  I wish that he would pay more attention to how money is spent in the big picture but he seems to think that we have the money for whatever suits his latest fancy.  (Obviously, this is my take on our situation.)  He thinks that I need to focus less on money.

I applied for the job that I talked about and I probably would take it if I got the opportunity.  I do want to have less stress in my life and shift my focus from mainly work and a little bit of family to mainly family and a little bit of work.  Y changed jobs in December and he is much more relaxed with his current job.  He doesn't stress about his job on Friday with a weekend off anymore.  Often times on Saturday morning, I find myself constantly thinking about work and checking e-mails when I should just be enjoying my family.  Y is supportive of me changing jobs.  He thinks that I should just do whatever I want.

I find that I'm struggling with my frame of mind.  I need to be positive and appreciate the things that really matter in my life, like family.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Less Pay for Less Stress?

I applied for a job yesterday that would be less pay with a lot less stress than my current job.  It is still in the same industry but would be more servicing than sales.  It would be regular hours, 8-5, with benefits.  The pay is 32K but I could try to negotiate for more money.  I know that the company is open to negotiating for pay.  My current coworker's dad works at the company and I think that I could at least get an interview. 

I currently take home around $2500 per month.  We do not have health insurance through my job so that wouldn't be a factor in my decision.  I am currently in a sales job with very high expectations and quotas.  There is a lot of stress where I work now.  I am never actually able to take a vacation and my cell phone rings constantly with clients.  I also commute a long distance to work now and have to work some evenings/Saturdays. 

The new job would be much closer to my home and wouldn't be the constant stress of selling and servicing my clients.  We would be able to make it on less money but just might not be able to save as much money.

Would you take a pay cut for less stress and more time with your family?

Monday, March 21, 2011

Shopping over the Weekend

Y and I went shopping this weekend.  I bought 2 pairs of dress pants, 1 light cardigan, 3 cute shirts and a necklace for $93.66 at New York and Co.  I could justify the purchase by saying that I needed the stuff but I really didn't.  I just wanted it.  It was completely unnecessary. 

I'm done shopping now for this season.  I might need to get a new pair of black dress shoes.  The pair that I'm currently wearing are starting to show their age. 

Has anybody else had the urge to shop like crazy lately?

Friday, March 18, 2011

Expensive Weekend Coming Up

Y is buying a $1500 tractor this weekend and it will cost him $400 to go get it.  He's talked about a tractor for a long time and we need one for snow removal.  We will also be able to use it to plow up a space for our garden. 

He's getting the tractor from his buddy's uncle.  It books at about $6000 but it needs a little bit of work which he'll be able to do himself.  They are selling it to him for $1500 because he knows them from hunting and they are just really nice?  The guy told him that it needs some work, possible a new power steering hose.  He also told Y that at the price he is paying, Y can pay to move it to our house, fix it, and still make a profit if he decides to sell it.  That's really nice but a little weird to me.  I guess that the money isn't a huge concern for this guy.  Either way, we really appreciate it.

We paid about $600 this year for snow removal and this will stop the need for hiring it out.  With the cost of repairs, it will take 4-5 years to even out but in the long run its worth it.  It also helps that Y and his friends can pretty much fix anything.

Y is borrowing our neighbor's truck and trailer to move it.  He said that he was going to take $400 for moving it.  The portion that isn't used for fuel will go to our neighbor for the use of his truck.

I hope we're making a good decision on this tractor.  It sounds like it to me but I readily admit that I've been talked into other things that sounded  like good deals at the time by Y. 

Happy Weekend!

Monday, March 14, 2011

Savings Interest Rates

I am now getting 1% APR on my money at ING.  I really thought that they couldn't go any lower than 1.1% but I was wrong.  I'm not saving my money to make money but it would be nice if I could get more than 1%. 

I know that many elderly people depend on interest rates to maintain their standard of living.  They've really got to be feeling the low interest rates.

I know that I could get more interest from a CD but I'm not really sure if I'm willing to lock my money into a CD.  I had thought about changing online banks awhile back but I don't think its worth the hassle.  I was going to move most of our savings to Ally Bank but they are currently paying 1.05%.  The .05% isn't worth it to switch. 

I wish that I could get the 3% interest rate back that I started with at ING.  Oh well, such is life :)

Friday, March 11, 2011

Grocery Money

I spend on average about $400 to $450 per month on groceries.  I also buy most of my meat in bulk so that's actually not included in that figure.  I split a pig with my best friend and that usually costs around $130 for the meat and cutting/processing.  I have also gotten a quarter of a beef from my parents and will buy a quarter in the future from some farmer (I don't have any contact with my folks anymore).  I buy my chickens by the case from some Mennonite farmers because I want organic chickens.  Lately, we have ran out of most of our meat, so we have been buying it in the store.  (I want to use up the last bit of our beef before we buy another quarter.)

I think that that number is really high and I just can't seem to get it down to around $300 like many PF bloggers.  I can do a month of about $350 but after that month is up, I find myself spending more the next month to replenish things like flour, sugar, dressings, etc.  I can cut it back but not to an actual sustainable level.

I called my sister this week to ask her how much she spends.  She said that for a family of four, they typically spend around $600 to $800 per month.  She said the same thing that I've thought.  She said that she can do a week or two for $100 to $150 but after that, she has to do an actual stock up of her pantry.  She clips coupons and buy most store brands. 

Is it realistic for a family of 3 to survive on $350 to $400 monthly for groceries?  How much do you spend?

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

3 Payday Month and Numerous Savings Accounts

March is a 3 payday month for me.  I love those.  They only happen twice a year but it just feels so good to know that I'm getting an "extra" paycheck this month.  I'm planning on putting the money in our savings account.  We paid for our full semi-annual car insurance this month so that will be a bit out of the third paycheck. 

I don't have numerous separate accounts for different things like insurance.  I know that I pay my car insurance twice per year and my home insurance once per year but I don't actually budget them every month.  I know that I will have the money in our general savings account so I don't see much of a point of putting it in a different account.  I know that I'm not going to blow our entire savings and I contribute regularly to our savings account.

When I waitressed, I would just pick up extra shifts when I had a big bill due and make it work into the existing budget.  I guess that I've never really gotten away from that mentality.  It seems like most PF bloggers have separate accounts for everything fom pet expenses to insurance but I just don't see the need. 

Any thoughts on numerous savings accounts?

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Building a House

Our plan from the time that we moved here was to build a house.  Well, that's really freakin' expensive and I don't know if we're going to be able to.  We're in the process of having our house plans drawn up.  We know what we want but its a lot of square footage and we're not really willing to compromise.  We want a rambler, 3 bedroom, 2 1/2 bath house with a bonus area.  It might simply be out of our price range.

Also, can we get a construction loan with a mortgage on our current land in the amount of almost 88k?  I guess that I need to talk to a banker that does construction loans and see if a lender is willing to take us on as a risk. 

Maybe we never should have taken this on.  I might have jumped in way over my head.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Weekly Money Check Up

Over at My Pretty Pennies , she does a weekly money check.  Here goes.
1. The most I’ve spent this last week was on shopping in Chicago.  I spent around $180 on quite a few tops and a jacket.  I shopped at H & M and Charlotte Russe.  Both stores that I love but we don't have here.  It was fun and I just want to keep on shopping.
2. Today I feel blah towards money.  There is nothing exciting going on in my finances currently.
3. Money can’t buy happiness. One free/inexpensive thing I did last week that made me happy was play blocks with my little girl.  It was the first time that she's really gotten into those particular ones and its fun to spend quality time together.
4. I will consider this week a success if I get caught back up at work.
5. My guilty pleasure TV shows are reality tv shows.  My favorites are Amazing Race, The Bachelor, and Survivor.  I love those three shows and Y doesn't care for them at all.  Amazing Race is my favorite.  I love the cowboys.  They are such good people and I hope they win.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Business Trip and March Goals

I'm leaving tomorrow for a short business trip to Chicago.  I have a budget for the trip and I'm planning on going shopping.  I'm planning on the following budget:  $75 for transportation, $125 food/booze, $90 for Hotel and $260 for shopping.  The shopping money is actually coming out of my fun money that I've had for a long time.  Total budget is $550. 

March Goals:
Increase savings to $45,000.
Finish Will
Pay off monthly credit card bill
File for flex money
Have house plans drawn up