Sunday, January 29, 2012

Feb 2011 Goals and Annual Goals

I have a few goals for February.  Here goes:

  • Have tax documents ready
  • File taxes--appt set for 2/28
  • Stick to $500 budget for NYC--I think I will do a separate post on this
  • Get house plans drawn up--If we don't get this in writing and as a goal, who knows how long we could put it off.
  • Make wellness check with doctor
  • Keep to grocery budget of $400
I also wrote down my annual goals but I never posted them on my blog.  Here goes:

Financial:

  • Stop and stay not smoking
  • Pay off mortgage
  • Keep $30,000 in savings
Non-financial:

  • plant 2 apple trees
  • plant asparagus
  • plant vegetable garden
  • plant herb garden
  • Run at least a 5K
  • Go on a mini-vacation with family
  • Go on a solo vacation  (NYC will count as this.)
LOL!  You can tell that I was thinking about the summer and planting food when I made my non-financial goals. 

Have you made goals for Feb?

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Lazy Saturday

I'm at home today with Lil Punk (she's sleeping now) and Y is at work until 6 tonight.  We've had a lazy day, just hanging out and napping.  It's the perfect Saturday for us.  I wish that Y was here, too.  Shiftwork kinda sucks.

Tonight, Y's best friend is coming over and we're going to watch the UFC match.  We haven't seen him for quite awhile so it will be nice to hang out.  We told Lil Punk that he was coming out tonight and she got all excited. 

I'm making pork chops, mashed potatoes and gravy, and veggies.  Should be good.  I'm sure that Y will buy beer and we will have a good evening. 

Its snowing pretty good now and it just reminds me of a wintery Saturday.  What are you doing tonight?

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Jan 2011 Menu Plan Update

This has been the first time that I've really tried to stick to a menu plan and its going okay.  We've made it 4 days and we've made 4 of the planned menu items, just not on the day that they were supposed to happen.  On Tuesday, we had planned to have pork loin, potatoes and veggies.  Y decided to make lasagna instead.  Yesterday we were going to have spaghetti but Y made pork loin.  We had chili today instead of tuna melts.

I think that it might be best to plan a certain number of meals but leave it open on which day we make what.  It is helpful to have a list posted in the kitchen of meals that we have everything for instead of wondering if we should make something and only having half the ingredients.

I think to make this work I need to loosen it up a little bit on which day we have what.  I think that it will cut down on unnecessary grocery spending.

Lil Punk is using the potty all the time now.  She still has accidents at daycare but we're working on that.  If she goes the entire day at daycare without an accident, she gets to pick out a treat at the store on the way home.  She usually gets string cheese so its not like she's getting candy to ruin her dinner.  Cutting diapers out of the budget will free up about $60 or more per month.  I can buy treats to see the end of that. 

How do others do their menu plan?  Do you just plan a certain number of meals and decide what to make that day?  Or do you always stick to having what you wrote down on the menu plan?

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Planning to Build Our House


Y and I need to start looking at getting estimates to build our house.  We have a tentative plan of a house drawn up that Y did.  We definitely want that plan.  We had wanted to wait until spring 2012 but if we can swing it, we might start building this summer, probably around August. 

Y is off  today  so I told him to call a local builder that we’ve heard very good things about.  Y called him and didn’t get an answer.  He left him a message so I’m hoping that we hear back soon.  I want to meet with them and have them draw up a real house plan.  With that, we can have them do an estimate.  We will likely take it to a few builders to get different estimates. 

I am a little bit nervous because I don’t think that we’ll be able to afford the house that we want.  I think that it will be out of our price range.  The price range that we’re looking at is $200,000.  That does not include the land as we will own that outright by the time we start building.  That will also not include the well but probably will include a new septic.  Y said that we need a new one and we might as well get a new one when we’re building compared to having problems with our current one a year down the road.

A part of me thinks that we can’t build the house we want for $200,000 but that is a fair bit of money.  Many new houses cost less than that.  Our first house was brand new and only cost $137,000 for a 2045 square foot bi-level home in town which included the lot.  Y can do a majority of the plumbing and maybe wiring.  We can also cut costs by doing our own painting.  (I talked to Y about painting ourselves and he promptly vetoed that idea.)

I get so excited to actually thing about building our house.  Any advice?

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Feb. Menu Plan and Random Tidbits

I've not been so good at menu planning because I like to decide what I'm going to have that day.  I want to start menu planning so I'm better prepared with both grocery shopping and eating down some food in the pantry/freezer.

Monday--Black Bean Soup, I actually tried making this tonight in preparation and I might need to alter something.  The beans are good but I threw away the broth because it was black and not very good, maybe Black Bean Tacos instead.

Tuesday--pork loin, potatoes, veg

Wednesday--spaghetti

Thursday--tuna melts with veggies

Friday--chili

Saturday--Pork Chops with rice and veggies, probably in the Crock Pot

Sunday--Lasagna

Monday--shrimp, garlic toast, veggies

January has been a very expensive month for us.  Property taxes ($734), Annual life Insurance premium ($297.50), new fuel pump for Y's truck ($300) plus maybe labor for that if he can't do it himself, Propane ($1400), Plane ticket to New York ($343), where does it end?

I know that not all of the expenses are surprises but its just hard when they all hit in one month.  We don't set a certain dollar amount for things like property taxes.  It all just comes out of our monthly cash flow and savings. 

I'm not sure where we will be sitting as far as a tax refund.  We paid in about $5000 more in federal taxes this year and made about the same as last year but we don't have all the write-offs from my old job that we had last year.  Either way, I much prefer not having to part with half my paycheck and not getting back as much of a tax refund. 

Y's employer wasn't able to correct their HR screw up and didn't even apologize.  They just said that it can't be fixed and that is how it is.  It sucks but I'm not surprised that they can't fix it. 

Happy Week to come!  Let's make the most of it!

Friday, January 20, 2012

Propane Refill

It got really cold here this week, down to 18 below without wind chill.  We were getting low on propane so I called to have it refilled.  It cost $1394 for 774 gallons.  It was $1.80 per gallon.  Not such a bad price considering it is January.

I really miss having natural gas.  It is a much more efficient way to heat a house.  Unfortunately, we live in the country and they don't have natural gas lines here.  Oh well.  You win some and you lose some. 

How do you heat your home?  Do you like your method?

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Potty Training Tips??

I am looking for any and all potty training tips.  Lil Punk is to the point that she has worn underwear to daycare the last couple days but still has a couple accidents during the day. 

Any and all suggestions and tips welcome!

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Spendy Weekend

I'm disappointed with this weekend.  We needed to return a few Christmas presents and buy groceries.  Needless to say, it added up more than I would have liked.

This is what we spent this weekend:

Gas  44.00
Drinks at Concert 15.00
Beer for Y 17.51
Groceries and razers 202.95
Miscellaneous spending 17.82
Computer speakers for Y 73.62

Total 370.90

The majority was for groceries.  We spent $48 of the $202 at Sam's Club on soup and razers.  The rest was spent today.  We were out of almost everything.  This should last us for the rest of the month but I will need to stop for milk and maybe produce. 

Saturday, January 14, 2012

HR Screwed Up!!

The last 2 years, Y and I have flexed $6000, $5000 for dependent care flex (daycare) and $1000 for medical flex.  Flexing refers to it going to a separate entity before tax.  You then turn in your receipts and get your money back tax free.  We had every intention of flexing for 2012 as it would probably save us at least $1000.  Not sure since we can write off daycare but it is still a loss for us.

Last year we used the flex program through Y's employer.  We assumed that it would be the same amount for 2012 because we didn't change anything or receive notification otherwise.  We thought wrong!  Apparently, they sent out 4 e-mails in November stating that all employees needed to reenroll for their flex benefits or they reverted to $0.  We discovered this yesterday when his paycheck was almost $200 higher than normal. 

Y called HR and they told him about the e-mails.  They said that there wasn't anything that they could do.  The best part is that after further investigation, they discovered that Y isn't on their company wide e-mail.  We were upset about this.  Y talked to his supervisor's boss and he is going to try to do something but I kind of doubt that anything will happen. 

This is his company's screw up.  The best part is that this isn't a small private company.  They should definitely have their act together.

Has anything like this ever happened to you?  How did you handle it?

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

New Airline Credit Card?

I'm looking at booking my flight to New York in February.  The flight will cost about $430 because I need to fly out of a smaller airport than a major hub.  My sister lives in Manhattan.  I'm not gonna lie; Sharon motivated me with seeing her pictures of her going to New York with her daughters. 

If I book through American Airlines, I can get $100 off my flight if I get their credit card.  The only con is that I'm not as crazy about the flight time.  I would have to leave Lil Punk overnight at my friends house because Y is working and daycare wouldn't be open yet at the time that I need to leave.  I talked to my friend and she said that she would love to have Lil Punk and she suggested that she stay overnight versus me dropping her off there at 4:30 am.

If I book through Delta Airlines, I can get $50 off my flight if I sign up for their credit card.  This is a good discount but its just not as good as the American Airlines discount for their card. 

Both cards have an annual fee but I would just cancel it within a year so I didn't have to pay the $85.  I understand that the $85 is waived for the first year and is charged on your one year anniversary.

I know that this would be on my credit but my credit score is fantastic, over 800.  It doesn't really matter when your credit score gets over 770 or 780.  Sure it can go higher but you aren't going to get any better discounts or rates.  I know this because I work at a bank.  That being said, what would be the con for getting the card?

I've previously gotten quite a few credit cards for different perks and it has worked in my favor.  I've received discounts and I don't keep a balance so I'm better off.  I have the money to pay for this flight but I want the discount REALLY bad. 

What do you think?  Should I get an airline card for the discount?

Sunday, January 8, 2012

When Personal Finance Blogs Become Commercial

My pet peeve is when I really like a personal finance blog and the blogger decides to try making a lot of money from their blog.  I can usually tell pretty quickly because the posts start to lose the personal aspect and become a guide for how to effectively manage money.  They will start to have very generic posts on the best way to save money on travel, invest for retirement, etc. 

I dislike it because I can find this stuff anywhere on the internet written by professionals.  I can find it on MSN Money or Yahoo.  I like personal finance blogs because I like the personal part of it.  Yes, I'm interested to know how you will find the money to repair your broken down car.  Will you pick up extra work, take it from savings, cash in retirement or put it on a credit card? 

I can think of quite a few blogs that I've slowly stopped reading as they become commercial.  I don't feel like I know the blogger anymore but they are still cranking out blogposts 3 times per week on random stuff that they are now experts in.

Can you tell when a personal finance blog is no longer personal?  Am I the only one that is annoyed by this?

Friday, January 6, 2012

January 2012 Challenge Update

I am doing awesome with our challenge for low/no spending for January.  However, Y is not.  He has spent $90 at Walmart in 4 different trips.  The worst part is that he didn't even have an answer on what he bought.  He blew it.  So freakin' annoying. 

I do need to remember that he has EQUAL say in our finances and I have spent more than $90 on things that he would consider frivolous.  Grrr! 

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

I Quit Smoking

2012 is a year of changes for me.  I am 3 days without a cigarette.  Today was my first day back at work without smoking and I would be lying if I said that I didn't miss it.  I liked smoking at lunch and after I dropped off Lil Punk in the morning.

It's a little bit embarrassing that I still smoked.  I didn't mind if I was at the bar and somebody saw me smoking.  However, I didn't want any of my co-workers to know or anybody else that I know professionally. 

I will do it.  And reward myself with a trip to New York City!  More on that later...

Have you ever struggled with an addiction?  Other than Facebook?  LOL!

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Happy New Year: No More Facebook

I have contemplated quitting Facebook for a little while.  I find that it has become a completely impersonal way to look into other's lives.  I can be nosy and see what they are up to without actually talking to them.  I also saw my estranged mother on there one day.  I immediately blocked her from everything so she can't even search for me but I still felt that my privacy was invaded. 

I saw a post on Facebook today to live your 2012 according to your priorities and not your habits.  I thought about it and deactivated my Facebook account.  I would not say that Facebook enriches my life at all.  It is a huge time waster and something that really annoys Y. 

If I change my mind, I can reactivate my account and everything will be the same. 

Have you ever thought about quitting Facebook?  Are you addicted?  Does it add anything to your life?