Thursday, June 30, 2011

June 2011 Goals Recap

  • Have 10 No Spend Days Fail!  I didn't even track my spending.
  • Pay for Trees planted without dipping into Savings Fail!  It came to an additional $1400.  We had already paid $230.  I had to dip into savings to pay for it. 
  • Cancel some Life insurance Pass!  I cancelled 2 policies that I had taken out at my old job to get paid.  This is another entire post.
  • Cancel unneeded credit cards Pass!  I cancelled 1 credit card, my GM card, that I never used anymore.  Yes, I could've cancelled another 1 or 2 more but wasn't sure which ones. 
  • Eat down Pantry Fail!  This is another challenge for this month.
  • Keep Savings a Constant (Don't go backward) Fail!  With changing jobs and paying for the trees, there wasn't much hope of achieving this one. 
I didn't do so hot this month but I achieved one huge goal that has been on my list for a year.  I got a new job which I totally love.  I feel better than I have for so long.  I was kind of depressed before and I just wanted to sit at home when I wasn't working.  I wanted to be home Friday night and all day on Saturday and Sunday.  It wasn't the healthiest situation but it is over now and I'm so excited to have the best summer of my life.  I really do feel like I'm having the best summer ever.  I don't even think that money is the most important thing in my life anymore and I used to feel like that.  I'm so blessed.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Making a Few Phone Calls Pay Off

I had an invoice with E-bay for $17.79.  I knew that I owed $2.75 but I couldn't figure out where the other $15 came from.  I called them last night and was on the phone for 30 minutes.  I was transferred 3 times but in the end, they took care of the $15. It was a fee from them trying to debit the wrong bank account.  I thought that I had set it up so the invoice would come out of my PayPal account but for whatever reason it hadn't went through.  They were very nice on the phone and the end result was in my favor.

The other call I made was to DirectTV.  I needed to change the account that our payment was coming out of.  That wasn't a problem.  I also needed to drop the HD package channels (not the regular HD but 5 channels that we never watched.)  I had added it because it was a 3 month promotion and we never did watch those channels.  I had forgotten to cancel before the promotional period ended.  They cancelled it as of the date that I called.  I also mentioned to the rep that we had a receiver that we aren't using.  We had planned to use it for the TV in our bedroom but its currently under our bed.  He said that we could put the receiver on vacation and not have to pay for it.  Only $6 per month but still a savings for me.

I saved $21 yesterday for a couple phone calls.  Yay!  Baby steps!

Monday, June 27, 2011

I Paid the Crazy Daycare Lady

I pay my bills because its what I should do. I still think that she was in the wrong but I don't want to live my life by wondering what will be in my mailbox.  I don't want to risk a court summons.  It's not worth the anxiety for myself and Y.

Chapter closed.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Pantry Challenge for July 2011

I'm going to do a pantry challenge for July.  I will try to completely eat down my pantry and freezer.  My grocery shopping will only consist of dairy products, fresh fruits and veggies and other necessities.  This combined with fresh strawberries and veggies from my garden should keep our grocery bill low.  My goal is to keep our grocery spending under $250.  That is a huge challenge but it will feel really good if when we do it. 

Does anybody care to join me?

Friday, June 24, 2011

Superior Customer Service

The middle of May Y set up garbage service with Waste Management.  Previously, he had been hauling the garbage into the dump for a fee of $15.  He usually went about twice a month.  It wasn't a problem in the winter because we would just put the garbage in the garage in a can.  It didn't smell because it was cold.  We knew that we needed to set up a garbage service and we had one option, Waste Management. 

He called them to set it up and it was a very smooth process.  They dropped off the garbage can and picked it up the following week.  We received the bill and realized that we had been charged for one extra week.  We had been charged from the date that he set it up instead of the date that we got the garbage can or the pick up date.

I had meant to call them to ask if they would pro-rate it differently but I hadn't had time.  They conducted a random survey via phone with Y.  He said everything was good but mentioned the one week that we had been charged for before we were getting the service.  They are going to credit us one month free.  That's awesome and superb customer service in my book. 

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Rubbing Elbows with the Rich

Today I worked at a golf tornament for work. It was a charity event that my employer put on.  I helped with registration and then sat at a hole.  I met people and took pictures.  We gave out drinks and people were able to buy brats at our hole.  It cost $80 to play for one person in the tournament.  The money went to a local youth program. 

The people who participated in the event are the affluent in our community.  They were business owners and farmers.  The farmers in my area are loaded.  Some were obviously very rich.  They drove very nice vehicles and had country club memberships.  I don't know if they are in debt or not but I know that many of them make over 250K per year.  I couldn't help feeling a little jealous.  I don't have a problem with rich people and I'm comfortable mingling with them.  I think that many of them have helpful tips for business.

I didn't like how I felt today.  I know that it was jealousy.  It made me want to keep up with the Joneses and that's not how I want to live my life.  I want to be happy with who I really am and my family and my overall life. 

Have you ever felt like this? 

Best Debt I've Ever Acquired

Taking out a student loan to be able to attend college was the smartest financial move that I've ever made.  I took four years off after high school and didn't have any plans to attend college right out of high school.  After working jobs without a future, I decided that I should take a second look at college.  Paying for college rested solely on my shoulders.  I was living on my own without any help from my parents.

I knew that I would have to take out student loans to pay for my tuition and books.  I figured that I would be able to pay for my living expenses out of what I was making by waiting tables.  I worked quite a bit in college, usually around 30 to 35 hours per week, to be able to pay my rent and other living expenses that I had.  I had a car payment for the first 4 months of college but managed to pay it off so I didn't have to worry about it when I was in school. 

I graduated college in 4 years with a debtload of around 19K.  I worked hard to pay off $2500 right away before my deferment was over.  I consolidated 16.5K at 4.5%.  My payments are $112.53 for 15 years.  I'm on track to pay it off much earlier than that.

It's impossible to say how much more money I make because I have a college degree but I'm sure that it's at least $1000 more per month.  Even after my student loan is paid in full, I will continue to make more money.  Student loan debt has had a much better return for me than most people made at the boom of the housing market.  I think that because I was responsible about how much I borrowed, it set me up for success later in life.

Does anybody regret borrowing money for college?

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

We Might Be Getting Sued!!!!!!!

This is a long story.  When I was waiting for my background check with my old employer, I told my daycare lady that I was giving my 30 day notice.  That Friday I gave my notice at work and was terminated immediately.  I didn't tell my daycare lady that day because I was upset and had a very bad day.  Y didn't like it that I didn't tell her Lil Punk wouldn't be coming back to her daycare but I had already given her my notice.  I texted her on Monday to tell her that I was done at work and Lil Punk wouldn't be actually be at her daycare anymore.  She texted me back and was rather mean about it.  I asked for her address and mailed her a check for one week. 

That left one week to pay for because the deposit went for the last week.  Last week she texted me and was very mean.  She thanked me for my check for the previous week and told me that I needed to pay for that week.  She texted me at 10:45 pm.  I texted back the next morning and asked her if she thought it was professional to text me at 10:45 pm.  She texted back that she was going to take me to court for the remaining week's pay and she was sorry that she had taken so long.  I mailed her a check that day for $80 which was the regular rate of $120 minus $40 because she had lost an Adidas outfit of Lil Punk. 

When she received the mail on Friday, she started firing off texts to me about how I'm a professional woman but I'm making rules for her daycare.  She mentioned a couple times how I'm a professional.  I'm not sure what she meant by that.  She did lose her Adidas outfit and I asked her about it several times.  She could never give me a straight answer.  She said various things like she needed to check by the washing machine and other random excuses.  She again threatened to take me to court for the $120.  Now I had already given her $80 so she was upset over $40. 

At this point, I involved Y with this entire drama because her texts were so mean that I couldn't/didn't want to handle the matter anymore.  I dug out my original contract and analyzed it.  I saw in the contract that she is only able to raise the rate by $5 on the anniversary date of the contract.  I signed the contract in June 2009 and the first week that Lil Punk was at daycare, the first week of September, she raised the rate from $110 per week to $115 per week.  According to my interpretation, she charged us too much from September 2009 to June 2010.  She raised the rate for me again in September 2010.  According to her contract, she shouldn't have been able to raise the rate until June 2011.  That makes for about $400 that she charged us too much for. 

Y texted her today and pointed this out.  She again kept threatening us with going to court.  She texted, "So you really think that a judge would award you $5 per week?"  Apparently her contract only applies to the things that she wants it to and not to the items that benefit her clients.  She texted, "Ok, I'm not going to go further with this."  That may be an ending but I don't really know.  She is psycho and it makes me sad that I left my daughter in her custody and care for almost 2 years.  She mailed the $80 check back to us today. 

I have no idea if she is going to go to court but if she does, we will countersue for the amount that she overcharged us according to her contract.  I just wish this was done.  By the way, texting is not my preferred method of communication but its the only way that she will communicate.  She doesn't answer her phone.  Sometimes when Lil Punk would be in her care, I had to call 5 times in a row to get an answer. 

Any advice?  I know that any advice given will not be legal advice and will just be common sense.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

My Garden Update

I am absolutely loving having a garden.  So far the only veggies that we've eaten out of it are radishes and onions.  The weeding has been a huge challenge for me.  I can definitely see why serious gardeners get a tiller to take care of the weeds. 

I have huge aspirations about canning.  I plan to definitely make pickles and spicy canned green beans.  I mentioned to my neighbor who does a lot of canning that I would need to get jars.  She picked several up for me at a thrift store for a couple bucks so I should be good there.  I will need to get a pressure cooker yet but I would like to find one at a garage sale or a thrift store.  My problem is that I rarely shop thrift stores and I never stop at garage sales unless I see that they have kids' stuff.  I will have to be better about that.

I had to buy a new hose for my garden so I'm probably around $75 in at this point.  I know that I will at least get my money's worth but I just love growing my own food.  There is a satisfaction about it.  So far it has been a great hobby and I look forward to the rewards.

Spending Out of Control

We tend to spend more in the summer because we can actually get out and do stuff.  This summer has not been an exception.  I touched on some irregular expenses in an earlier post and they just keep on going. 

I don't save for specific items like vacation.  We have our savings that covers what we need it to.  I prefer doing that because it gives me a better overall of where we're at.  I don't like it when we have a large planned expense like car insurance or vacation because they creep up quickly.  Y is going on vacation with his friend the end of this month to the Black Hills and a motorcycle rally. 

We had a misunderstanding about how much it would cost.  I thought he told me to budget $400 and when we just talked about it, he said he was thinking $600.  I'm hoping that he will spend less than that but I will plan for the higher amount. 

I'm not complaining about the expenses because we've okayed them but everything just adds up so quickly. 

Friday, June 17, 2011

Switching Banks

Since I work at a bank now, I'm changing our accounts over.  I always knew that changing banks would be a royal pain in the arse.  I have so many things that are on automatic payment.  Both Y and I are paid with direct deposit.  I already changed my information so I should be getting paid in my new account.  The other things that are taken out automatically are our life insurance, electric bill, Direct TV, and my student loan.  I can't remember if I'm missing anything.  I will have to keep our old account for a couple months to make sure that everything is switched over. 

Any advice on switching accounts?

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Work Reimbursements

I'm out of town currently on business for training.  I'm reimbursed for my hotel, mileage and meals.  It feels so good to not have to pay for essentials for my business.  I do have to pay for them upfront but I will submit a reimbursement when I'm back in the office on Thursday.  The reimbursement should take about ten days.  I'm completely fine with that.

With my old job, our hotel would sometimes be covered but everything else was on me.  I had to pay for my own mileage and meals even though the travel was mandatory.  I really don't miss that.

I do wonder how much its okay to spend on meals.  I ate at the Outback Steakhouse tonight because I love their food and we don't have one where I live.  It was about $20 with tip for my steak.  I paid for my beer separately.  I wonder how much its okay to request reimbursement for.  If I have to pay for part of my meal tonight, I'm completely fine with that.  They didn't tell me how much it was okay to spend on food so I really have no idea.  I will have to talk to my manager when I get back and see what she thinks.

Do you have any input on how much would be too much to spend when you're getting reimbursed from your employer?

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Autobody Work

This post is hard to write because it involves me admitting that I was wrong.  Last summer I hit a deer with my month-old car coming back from vacation.  Y wanted to bring it to a big, local bodyshop to get the work done.  My friend has an autobody shop and I wanted to bring it to him.  He had done work for me before and it turned out well.  He had also done work for a friend of mine and she had great results.  Y and I argued about it at the time and I won. We brought it to my friend.  He waived the $500 deductible and completed the work.  It was about 14K of damage to my car but it wasn't totalled because I had just bought the car.

I was happy with the work at the time and didn't have any complaints other than how long it took.  It took about 2 1/2 weeks for it to be done which I thought was excessive. 

Fast forward 11 months and I'm washing my car by hand.  I notice that there is a lot of chipping on the front bumper and hood of my car.  I contacted my friend to take a look.  I really wanted him to fix it free of charge because I thought that it was a bad paint job.  I also had him order the black plastic piece that attaches to the bumper.  Mine was ruined from hitting a curb and getting stuck in my driveway.  That piece was about $100.  He comes back and tells me that he can do the black piece and repaint the bumper for $525.  I had him go ahead and do it.

Y was really mad because I didn't talk to him about it.  In retrospect, I was wrong and I know it.  I shouldn't have had him repaint my car again because it will probably chip again.  I shouldn't have had him do the work in the first place because when I needed it warrantied, he just told me that I had hit a lot of rocks that had chipped my car.  I find that highly unlikely.  This was a very stupid financial move on my part and I wish that I could take it all back but I can't.  I made two mistakes by having him do it in the first place and then fixing it again for $525. 

I'm still a little sore about this.  I just paid him yesterday and picked up my car.  Yes, it looks nice and I really, really hope it stays that way. 

Have you ever had to step back and admit to your spouse that you were completely and utterly wrong?  It's hard, huh?

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Wonderful Weekend

I don't have much to relate that is different finance wise.  I thoroughly enjoyed last week.  I only worked one day for orientation.  I'm working this week  in a city about 3 hours away for training.

I had a great weekend with Y and Little Punk.  We went kayaking for the first time this year.  It is the first time that we've taken Little Punk in the kayak and she did great.  She kept leaning over to try to touch the water.  There were a couple times that she tried to stand up but overall she did well.  After we were done kayaking, we stopped at a drive-in and sat outside and ate burgers.  We then went over to visit a friend who was camping nearby. 

The only money we spent yesterday was for life jackets for myself and Little Punk.  We will have the life jackets for future uses.  I guess that we spent money on dinner at the drive-in to the tune of $17.  It was nice to hang out and not worry about going to a crappy job on Monday. 

Friday, June 10, 2011

Paydays

I found out when I will be getting paid from my new job and it will be on the 15th and end of the month.  That shouldn't be a problem but those are the exact days that Y gets paid.  Previously, I was paid every other Thursday so about half the time, our paychecks were staggered.  I think that it will be hard to get used to getting paid on the same days as Y.  I'm not sure how I will budget this but we'll make it work as we have to. 

Maybe I should use our last paychecks for the following month.  That might be easier to budget.  Any budgeting tips for this?

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Menu Plan Progress

I went grocery shopping last Friday armed with a list that I had made the night before after conferring with Y on what meals he would like for the next 2 weeks.  It actually made grocery shopping much easier because I pretty much stuck to the list.  I say pretty much because I won't pass up on a good sale because its not on my list.  I also had to add some snacks in.  I spent $160 for groceries for 2 weeks which is right on par with what I would normally spend.  The difference is that I bought quite a bit more meat than I normally would.  I hardly ever buy meat so Y will get fed up and just go buy it.  Kinda weird and I'm not really sure why I do that. 

The problem with it is that I haven't made any of the meals that we had planned on.  I have still cooked but some how managed to make other things that just sounded good.  I still have the ingredients to make the meals we planned.  I guess that this menu planning is a work in progress.  I can definitely see how one would save money by menu planning and grocery shopping accordingly. 

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Going Backwards this Month

I have pretty much accepted that we will be going backwards this month due to my job change and a few unexpected expenses.  A few expenses that came up are a new deposit for Little Punk's daycare ($200), trees that were planted by the county ($300), fabric for the trees ($1100), repairs to my car ($250 ??).  I'm not even sure what else.  I just need to remember to look at the big picture.  My new job is well worth the sacrifices meanwhile.

Sharon commented on one of my posts about keeping so much in our liquid savings.  I've written before that we want so much in liquid because we want to build our house and we actually want to build most of it.  I just get so sick of trying so hard to save all of our money. Why can't we just live on what we make and not worry about saving money for the future?  That wouldn't be that bad, right?

ETA:  Tree fabric, or what I call tree fabric, is a course fabric that is laid down at the base of the tree so that weeds don't overtake the little tree.  The trees that we planted were little, around 1 or 2 feet.  With the fabric that is laid down, it gives the trees a much better chance. 

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

New Job Orientation

I had orientation at my new job today and went over everything HR required.  I found out about my benefits.  The retirement benefits rock.  They match dollar for dollar up to 5% in their 401K.  I'm eligible for the 401K after 30 days.  In their 401K, they also offer company stock which is not sold publicly but is supposed to do very well.  I will have to do some research on it.  I will also have an ESOP after 1 year with the company.

I will also have 1X salary of life insurance at no cost with the option to buy more for myself and family.  I have short term disability at no cost and long term disability for under $5 per month. 

I am also offered medical and dental insurance.  I won't be taking the medical insurance as we have that through Y's employer at no cost.  We did have dental insurance through my old employer because it was pretty cheap.  Dental insurance through my new employer will be $21 per month.  I know that its kind of expensive but I'm still going to take it because Y might need more dental work.  He had some areas to watch when he went to the dentist last time.  I am more willing to pay the 21 bucks per month than chance having to pay for a root canal down the road. 

Also, my new employer actually reimburses me for travel for training.  My old employer would pay for the hotel and we always had to room with another employee.  Now, I get my own room and they reimburse for the room, mileage, and meals.  Yay!

Sidenote:  I'm not able to comment on a lot of blogs now from my home computer.  I'm not sure what's going on.  This computer is really old, about 6 years.  I miss commenting on some of my favorite blogs.  I'm sorry. 

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Officially Jobless and Loving It

I received word on my way back to my office from lunch on Friday that I passed the background check.  I was very apprehensive about putting in my notice at work.  I had been there for 4 1/2 years.  I put my notice in Friday afternoon and it went okay.  My boss was gracious.  I thought that he was going to be a jerk but he wasn't.  He even told me that if things didn't work out at my new job, I would be welcome back.  I was done immediately and collected my personal belongings.

I feel so much relief that I'm not going back to a job that I've been miserable at for about a year.  I'm counting my blessings.

Totally unrelated but one thing that I do to feel better about myself is watch Cops.  I have it better than the people getting arrested for burglary, drugs, prostitution, etc.

Friday, June 3, 2011

2011 Goals--June Check In

I want to take a look at my goals for the year to see where we're at.  The end of this month will be halfway through the year. 
  • Have $65,000 in liquid savings We are sitting at $55,400 in liquid savings.  I will actually move my business savings over to liquid savings when I quit my current job and we will make this goal.
  • Student loan under $6000 This is sitting at just over $7,000 and I haven't been paying extra.  I really want to pay this off.  I'm just sick of having this debt.  It is only 4.5% but I'm still paying interest.
  • Have car loan under $14,000 No, not on track.  I'm at $16,850 on this one.  This is at 0% so I'm not sure if I want to pay any extra on this to pay it down to 14K.  With my regular payments, it will be at 14.4K at the end of the year. 
  • Contribute $2500 to Roth IRA I have contributed $600 but I actually stopped my contributions.  I should look at contributing when we get our liquid savings goal met.
  • Have ING Stock account to $8000 I actually changed my mind on this goal.  It's around $6,500 in this account but I don't want to add any more to it because my goals don't line up with short term investing in stocks.
  • Have Business Savings to $10,000 (this isn't included in my regular savings) Almost done, this is at $9,900 and change.  I have the money in my business checking so I could transfer it but I'm keeping that money there to pay my quarterly taxes.  I can't wait to be done with the many, many expenses of this job. 
  • Finish Will Done!!!!
  • Complete a 5K Run I haven't even started running or thought about doing a race.  I have been biking quite a bit lately though.  I haven't been completely lazy just in regards to running.
I really need to talk to Y and see what he thinks about what to do next.  I want to pay extra on my student loan.  Y will likely need a different car/truck in the next couple years, too as we are having several engine issues with his.  I think that I should get the liquid savings to $65,000 and do some short term savings for more immediate spending.  Then, I think that I will throw some money at my student loan and my Roth IRA. 

Any suggestions?

Thursday, June 2, 2011

June 2011 Goals

  • Have 10 No Spend Days
  • Pay for Trees planted without dipping into Savings
  • Cancel some Life insurance
  • Cancel unneeded credit cards
  • Eat down Pantry
  • Keep Savings a Constant (Don't go backward)

Does Menu Planning Save $?

I've never really planned menus because I like to have the flexibility to make whatever I'm in the mood for when I get home from work or on the weekends.  I cook meals almost every night or we will have leftovers sometimes.  However, after reading several blogs, most PF bloggers note that they do plan menus and it saves money. 

At the grocery store, I will get ingredients for some basic meals but it usually changes.  For instance, I usually buy ingredients for spaghetti and tacos.  I will sometimes get ingredients for chili, homemade soup, roasts with potatoes and veggies, lasagna, etc.  I do end up buying stuff that I already have at home sometimes like tomatoes or chicken.

I'm willing to give it a menu planning a try to save money on groceries.  It's been pointed out to me that I should be spending much less on groceries than I am but I just can't seem to get it down. 

Does menu planning really help with the grocery budget?

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

May 2011 Goals Recap

1.  Increase regular savings by $1000  Done!  We are up $1,146.08
2.  Increase business savings by $500  Done! 
3.  Sell 2 things on E-bay  Done!  I sold 2 books
4.  Track Spending  Sort of Pass!  I did it until this past weekend and I haven't entered any numbers in.  It was really rough. 
5.  Have 12 No Spend Days  Fail.  I only had 7, kinda pathetic.
6.  Plant Garden  Done!  I'm so thrilled and excited for this project.  I may have to replant my tomatoes and peppers because they look almost dead to me. 
The most important May goal was to get a job and I did it.  I decided to wait to give my employer notice until the background check comes back.  I know that it will be good but just in case. 
Happy June!