Thursday, October 31, 2013

Under Budget for October 2013

We started off the month with the government shutdown scare which could have affected my pay big time. After the government reopened, we paid off the tractor and then realized that we need a new well. We were very aware of our spending for the entire month. I'm only going to post our discretionary spending here.

Household--budgeted $200, spent $217.17, this includes some necessary items for baby but is the only category that is over. Not too bad considering we were still getting ready for baby.

Entertainment--budgeted $100, spent $15.09 just rented movies from Redbox

Gas--budgeted $500, spent $349.15

Clothes--budgeted $150, spent $25.46

Eating out--budgeted $150, spent $107.08

Y miscellaneous money--budgeted $150, spent $62.81, mostly on energy drinks

Beer--budgeted $180, spent $164.97

Groceries--budgeted $550, spent $438.17

Gifts--budgeted $100, spent $29.39, early Christmas shopping

Miscellaneous--budgeted $100, spent $28.63, postage and a Halloween costume for Lil Punk

My miscellaneous money--$50

I'm pretty happy with our spending this month. We need to continue spending like this for November because we need to pay for the new well this month.

How was your October?

Monday, October 28, 2013

Ready for Baby

We are pretty much ready for baby. We still need to put the crib up and wash some baby clothes. I borrowed a lot of clothes from friends. I plan to breastfeed so that is taken care of. I do have a couple boxes of diapers but decided not to stockpile after reading all of your comments.

We have a swing and vibrating bouncer. The only other item I need to check is our infant car seat to see if its expired. I don't buy into the notion that babies need a ton of stuff. They need somewhere to sleep, something to eat, diapers and preferably a swing. We used the swing a lot when Lil Punk was a baby.

I also need to get my baby monitor back from a friend I lent it to. I think she is still using it and her kid is 2 1/2. She knows I need it back so hopefully.

I'm due in 2.5 weeks so I'm getting very uncomfortable. I expect to go to my due date but we shall see. As of last week, I've gained 46 pounds so I'm sure I will hit the 50 pound mark. I'm hoping this baby is under 10 pounds as Lil Punk was over 9 pounds. I want to be back in my jeans by 6 weeks out. Lofty goal.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Eating Poor in the Country

I have noticed from reading a number of blogs that being poor in the country is vastly different from being poor in the city. One of the main differences is with food. I draw on my own experiences growing up for this post.

Venison is probably the main source of protein for poor people in the country. You can always shoot one deer per person but sometimes more depending on the season. One can usually count on a neighbor or relative to give you an unwanted deer. You cut up the deer yourself because it costs money to pay a butcher. Typically you would have venison steaks and maybe venison burger. You can also supplement your protein supply for the year with pheasant, duck, maybe turtle and possibly either bear or moose. If you are a little better off, you might have homegrown chickens but it would cost to feed them so that's a maybe.

Potatoes would likely be your main starch for the entire year. You need to grow enough potatoes for the entire year. You can make mashed potatoes, fried potatoes, baked potatoes and lefse. There is no such thing as too many potatoes.

For vegetables, you need to grow and can your veggies. Green beans, beets, peas, and corn are the main staples. You would also typically have homemade pickles and jellies. Milk can be bought much cheaper from a local dairy farmer.

A cheap meal for the country folk is "cheapy mac". This is the cheapest mac n cheese (usually 4 for a buck) combined with cooked ground venison. You can feed a family of 6 for 50 cents.

It is a bit odd to me that because of these habits growing up, it shapes how I still think about food. I still like venison steaks and can still help butcher a deer with no problem. I could eat potatoes every day. I have gotten back into canning and I really like it. I will not ever go back to eating Cheapy Mac. I do draw the line there. The other side is that I will always love buying food and have slight hoarding tendencies with regard to food. I am constantly aware of this and struggle with it.

Is your relationship with food now shaped by your childhood relationship with food? Can anybody else relate to being poor in the country?

Monday, October 21, 2013

Is 94K A Lot?

I was talking to my brother today and we happened to talk about Obamacare. He and his wife are self-employed and he mentioned that he was hoping it would help drive down his health insurance premium. They now pay around $700 monthly with a $4000 family deductible. This is for coverage for a family of 4 (likely without maternity coverage but I didn't ask to make sure).

I also brought up that the tax subsidies go away at $94,000 and how that's not that much money. For a family of 4, that amount of money goes very quickly. My brother agreed with me. I don't know how much they make but its likely quite a bit more.

My brother drives truck but doesn't own the truck. He works in Western ND in the oil fields. He didn't graduate high school but works very hard and likes to make money. He will easily work 100 hours a week if given the chance. He is easily making 6 figures after accounting for the added expense of having a separate apartment out there. My sister-in-law owns her own daycare but doesn't work out of her own home. She works from 6:45 to 5:30 M-F. She works long hours but their two kids are with her after school. She has a high school diploma. She wasn't that ambitious when they got married but my brother definitely had a hand in her buying a separate house to do daycare in. Her daycare has been open for over 10 years and has a waiting list.

I use my brother and SIL as examples of what hard work can lead to. They don't have high education levels but are smart about making money and making it work for them. Where they live, they could probably live comfortably but modestly on 94k.

Tell me what you think. Is 94k a lot of money? To support a family? Is that a low amount to have the tax subsidy phased out for Obamacare? 

Friday, October 18, 2013

Oh No, Murphy!!!

We received news today that we need a new well and it will cost around $5000. Yikes! We don't have that much money in savings anymore. I guess it will need to go on our home equity line of credit. I'm sure glad I opened that.

Y had called several well guys in the last couple months. We thought we just needed a new pump. The one guy got back to him today and told him that we need an entirely new well. $5000 is just an estimate but it won't be over $6000. Our well is around 35 years old and they only last around 15 years.

This really stinks.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Tractor is Paid Off!!!

Y and I had been talking about paying off our tractor but with the uncertainty of the government we decided to wait. Since the government reopened today, I logged in and paid off the remaining $6880 from our savings and most recent paychecks. This leaves us with $3100 in our regular savings and $4500 in our car savings account that could be used for an emergency if needed.

I really wanted to have it paid before we are paying for daycare for two kids. Also, our lawnmower is fully paid for now, too. We just owe on my car to the tune of $5800 but that is at 0%. I want to get that paid but we need to build up out savings account first.

Woohoo!!! No more tractor payments!

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Living on One Income

I don't plan on quitting my job but what if? Could we make it?

Y's Income: $2800 (its not quite this high now but I'm assuming we wouldn't be flexing $5000 annually if I wasn't able to work)

$950 mortgage
$350 Irregular expenses including property taxes and all insurance
$85 preschool
$163 phone
$160 electricity
$71 DirectTV
Total $1779

This would leave $1021 monthly for gas, groceries, savings, and all miscellaneous spending. I think we could do it but it would be tight. Our income taxes would go down substantially so that might increase our income a bit. If you notice that this budget doesn't include either the tractor or car payments. Those would need to be paid.

This would be doable but not for an extended period of time.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Garmins, Priceline and One's Health

I was so looking forward to this weekend and it was not very a good weekend. We left around noon on Saturday and my in-laws drove. They had just bought a Garmin and were trying it out. For the record, I effing hate Garmins after this weekend.

We had a very nice dinner and drinks at the hotel. We realized at this time that the hotel was not centrally located to the Metrodome. We had to take a bus to the Mall of America and then the light rail to the Dome. I guess that my father-in-law has severe mobility issues that we weren't aware of and needs a cane to get around. This is a huge issue when going to a football game. His mobility issues stem from previous smoking, overeating, not exercising, previous knee surgery and other health problems he has. (He is 60, so not old.)

The Vikings lost and the game pretty much sucked. On the way back, my FIL could barely walk so it took us a long time to get to the light rail. Over an hour after the game finished, we got back to their car. Enter road construction and the Garmin. The Garmin took us in a huge circle and my FIL wouldn't deviate. I finally got him to drive north toward the interstate but the effing Garmin told him to turn so he turned. It took us over an hour and a half to get out of the Twin Cities.

Two worthwhile things came of this weekend. I realized that Priceline is the bomb and it sucks to overpay for your hotel. The other thing I realized is that I need to push Y into taking better care of himself. If he can't walk to a football game on 20 years, I will go without him. If he got in a car accident, I would accept that. I'm not accepting him being unhealthy and watching him self-destruct like his dad.

I don't care if I sound cruel. One's choices today dictate tomorrow's path.

What are you thoughts on Garmins, Priceline, and taking responsibility for your health?

Friday, October 11, 2013

I wrote a snarky post this week that I published and immediately took down about the government shutdown and the negotiating (or lack of it) between the two parties.

The reality is that I just want our government up and running. More than half of my pay for October will be cut if this continues. I don't have a government job but we need government approval for a large part of what I do and I'm on commission. As much as I don't want my pay cut prior to taking maternity leave, we are lucky I'm that we will be okay.

If they take peoples' Social Security away, many can't afford food. They truly need that income. What's a 85 year old lady supposed to do to get money for food?

We are off to Minneapolis tomorrow for the Vikings game. Maybe they will win two in a row? I hope so.

Monday, October 7, 2013

Investing Fun Money

Since I liquidated my stock account a year ago to pay for our house, I've missed buying individual stocks. I like having a lot of risk with a little bit of money. I like watching the stock market and my own account to see if I'm up or down. I like researching and buying a stock that I think will make me money.

I have managed to hold off for the last several months because the stock market was doing so well. I don't want to buy stocks at full price but on sale. October is a notorious month for the stock market so I wanted to keep an eye out for a good deal. On Friday I couldn't wait any longer.

I transferred just $300 into my old Sharebuilder account and made a small purchase. I bought Titan Machinery, stock symbol TITN. I have owned this stock before and made quite a bit of money. I sold it a year and a half ago for around $31 per share. I bought in again at around $16 per share.

I hope I make some money but it feels good to be buying stocks again, even if very casually. Do you buy individual stocks? How do you decide what to buy?

Friday, October 4, 2013

Homemade Edible Gifts

This weekend is my brother-in-law's birthday. We will get together with the fam for a BBQ or dinner. We get together for all birthdays and this BIL doesn't give gifts to anybody. Due to his own choices, he kind of scrapes by financially. We always get him a gift, maybe a gift card or something similar.

Would it be cheap of me to just make him a couple loaves of pumpkin bread? I know he would like them. Lil Punk can help me make them so it would be something special for her uncle.

Is this crafty or just cheap?

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Personal in PF

Reading through the comments from my last blog post from my blogging friends made me realize that many of you don't understand where I'm coming from. I know that I've made decisions that have made many of you probably raise your eyebrows.

When we decided to buy a new tractor and take on a loan for over $25,000, I think many of you didn't understand why we would do that. Last winter we had a huge amount of snow. It made us realize that we are easily snowed in here. We needed a reliable way to move the snow and our old tractor had broken down a number of times. Used tractors that were about ten years old were only about ten grand less. We bought new so we know how its been treated and we will have it for the next 20+ years.

One of the reasons that I was willing to buy it is because I see it as a necessity for living in the country. Before we moved, our property taxes were around $4800 annually. Since we moved here three years ago, they have been about $700 annually. After our tax abatement ceases, they will be around $2500 per year. We have already saved $12,300 in property taxes but we need to be more self sufficient out here.

Another way that I'm reminded of how personal finance is very personal is our decision to have another baby. Nobody has kids with the intention of saving money but we wanted another baby to complete our family. Childcare, diapers, clothing, food, school expenses, the list will always go on and we are okay with that.

I understand that I'm not going to get every PF blogger out there. As I look at the decisions I have made, I need to remember to cut others slack.

What PF decision have you made that others didn't get?