Tuesday, December 31, 2013

So I Messed Up...

So I messed up in a good way. I incorrectly calculated my earnings while I'm on maternity leave. My comp plan is fairly complex. I have a base and/or commission. I had assumed that I would only get my commissions that were over and above what my regular pay would be. I was wrong. I get all of my commissions plus short term disability pay. My paycheck today was $1500 more than I had expected. I transferred $1200 into our savings.

The other $300 is going to pay for a new windshield for my car. I went to get it repaired yesterday and just as I turned my car off at the glass repair shop, the rock chip turned into a crack. Sigh...

 I called and talked to the daycare director today. For January, daycare for both kids is $750 as I'm going back to work on the 13th. I had calculated $850 for this month. It will be $1025 regularly which is more than our mortgage payment.  They are so worth it.

Happy New Year to all my blogging friends! I hope 2014 brings you much happiness!

Sunday, December 29, 2013

December 2013 Wrap Up

Even though there are 2 days left of the month, I'm calling it a wrap. It's very chilly here today, 25 below with the windchill, so we are not going anywhere today. Tomorrow I have to bring my car in to get a rock chip repaired in my windshield. My insurance will cover it if its repairable. I also have to run to my work to renew my work license before the end of the year.

I tracked all spending for December. I took our Christmas spending out as that is already budgeted for and medical spending as I'm waiting in a reimbursement from our flex medical account. Instead of looking at all the separate categories, I wanted to look at the big picture. Our new budget allows for $1580 for all variable spending. We spent $1402 this month for food, gas, eating out, entertainment, baby stuff, household needs, etc. I'm happy that we came in under budget but it has only happened with constant vigilance and careful planning. Y has been on board but I can tell that he's already getting bored.

The weather has been exceptionally cold here for so early. 25 and 30 below isn't uncommon here but those are usually January or February temps, not December ones. We will have to fill up on propane shortly. I will try to wait at least another couple weeks so we make it through the rest of the winter.

For good news, I'm currently playing for first in my fantasy football league. If I get second place, I get $30 but first is worth $50. I'm not sure what I will do with the money.

I am taking place in Carla's No/Low Spend January. There are a couple exceptions that I am going to allow myself. I have a bachelorette party and I will be ready to have a couple drinks. I will also buy tax software because I will be doing our taxes this year. I will also need to buy a few things for the baby for when I go back to work like bottles. I do consider those necessities though. I'm hoping that I get the last of our medical bills in January so I can take care of those.

How cold is it where you're at? Anybody else hibernating?

Thursday, December 26, 2013

2014 Goals

We had a very nice Christmas and we're now exhausted. We had our Christmas on Christmas Eve and went to my in-laws early yesterday afternoon. We stayed over last night. It was fun but its hard to stay overnight with a nursing newborn. The baby started cooing which is adorable. I need to find a nickname for the baby for this blog but we don't have a nickname for him here yet.

For goals, I have financial and non-financial.

1. Increase regular savings to $10,000
2. Pay off car
3. Increase car fund to $15,000
4. Increase retirement savings to $100,000
5. Pay down mortgage to under $200,000
6. Increase giving by 10%
7. Stick to grocery budget of $500 per month

1. Remain smoke free
2. Lose weight to get down to 132 pounds
3. Plant 3 perennial plants outside of my garden--trees do count.
4. Plant regular garden and vine garden

Do you have your 2014 goals yet? Any advice for me?

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Frugal Week Ahead

I'm starting Carla's No Spend January a week early because we are ready for Christmas. We have all presents and stocking stuffers purchased. Y just finished his shopping on Saturday. We spent more on Christmas this year but we had planned to do so. We did spend much less on each other.

I opted to go to the grocery store tonight to get the remainder of groceries for the rest of the year. With the windchill, its been 20-25 below so I didn't want to take the baby out tomorrow. I made a list and followed it to a T. I went to WalMart and did price matching. I only wanted to spend $50. I spent $51.80 so I consider that a success. The total spent on groceries for December is $454.55. With all of the extra holiday baking, I'm very pleased to have stayed within our $500 grocery budget. Making a menu plan and making a grocery list has helped us stay under budget.

For the remainder of the year, we are closely watching all spending. Y needs gas for his pick-up and I'm planning on no more than $100 for all other spending. We are good on groceries and gifts but I know there will be a few other things come up.

How is your December budget looking?

Friday, December 20, 2013

2013 Goals Review

I revised my financial goals in June after we purchased our tractor and we were planning for our new baby. I don't regret changing my goals midway through the year because they need to be relevant.

1. Increase savings to $10,000--Fail. Right now it is at $3850.
2. Payoff tractor--Done!
3. Increase retirement savings to $75,000--Done! I don't have final numbers for the year end but it should be around $80,000. The market definitely helped with this goal. Our total in retirement savings at the beginning of 2013 was $52,934.11. This doesn't include any of our pensions.
4. Paydown car loan to $5,000--Done!

I think that I will have my 2014 goals finalized soon.

How did you do for your 2013 goals?

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Sushi and Christmas Lights

We have a super fun evening planned. Lil Punk, Baby and I are going to a nearby town to look at Christmas lights with friends. Actually I will drop Baby off with my mother-in-law. Lil Punk and I have plans to go with my friend and her little boy to look at Christmas lights. I do know of one city park that we will go to and give a donation for their light display. We are doing this in lieu of exchanging gifts this year.

When we are there, I'm going to get sushi for the first time in almost a year. I don't know when I started loving sushi but I do. I gave Lil Punk some options on where she could eat. She chose Taco Bell and McDonalds. I did make her choose one so we will pick up a taco for her at Taco Bell.

We will also go to Target to exchange a baby gift for a bigger size and pick up diapers. I have several friends who swear by the Target brand diapers for boys. I've already ran into some leakage issues with Pampers and Huggies.

I'm debating about going to the mall to get a personalized ornament. I get one every year but my patience with malls this time of year is not much.

We made cookies for Lil Punk's daycare class today. She told me that her Christmas party tomorrow was cancelled because one boy was naughty yesterday. I actually texted her teacher to make sure and it is still on. She just made the cancellation up. The mailman will get the other half of the cookies we made. If I keep them, I would eat all of them and I still need to lose some weight.

Super busy day and I'm not feeling the best but we made the plans awhile ago. I thought I had mastitis yesterday but am feeling a bit better today.

Ok, gotta go. Everyone is waking up from their naps.

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Saturday Plans

We have a relaxing day planned. I plan to take Lil Punk to the library this morning. She loves the library and I want her to like reading. She can't read yet but we're working on it. We've had some behavioral issues since we brought the baby home so I would like to spend individual time with her.

Later today we will make the gingerbread house that Y bought yesterday. Lil Punk is very excited to make it. We might go look at Christmas lights later this evening. 

My paycheck was quite a bit smaller than anticipated yesterday. I can only assume that some of my deals from late November were pushed back when I wasn't there. I was upset about it yesterday but in not going to let it ruin my holiday mood. The bills are paid and we had some go into savings.

What are your holiday plans?

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Pre-paycheck Update

We both get paid tomorrow so I'm making plans today. My paycheck tomorrow is a commission check and it should be the last good one for awhile. I'm thinking it should be around $5000 total but I'm a little confused on how they will figure out my commissions with maternity leave. I inquired on it before I left but I'm still not sure.

My medical bills are starting to come in. We still have $709 left in our flexible medical spending account. So far, I have a hospital bill for $897 and will get a clinic bill for $142. That maxes out my out of pocket for medical. Baby will likely get a bill for $400 for his deductible. The total of my hospital bill was only $3665. I'm assuming that's for the delivery of my son and my overnight stay. I thought it would be more? Sidenote--whoever thought up circumcisions should have their head examined. I know its common practice but I hate having my son's boy part cut. So cruel!

We did not get a discount on our new well. Y asked him and he said no. He said he reports all income so he doesn't give discounts. He did tell us we could take the next year to pay him though. I just paid the bill.

Our savings is pathetic right now. In our regular savings, we have $34. In our new car fund, we have $3050. I guess that we're also using that as our emergency fund. We need to build up our savings to $10,000. That will be a goal for the new year.

For Christmas spending, we are doing good. We've spent less overall this year. I do still have a few gifts left to get. I also want to buy a gingerbread kit to make with Lil Punk. I hope our doesn't turn out like Sonya Ann's MIL's. I have no intention of making it from scratch. After buying the candy needed, I don't think it would be much cheaper and I am so not crafty.

I was hoping to pay off my car this year. The balance is at $5000 at 0% interest. On of my earlier goals was to have it to $5000 so I accomplished that but it will stay at that.

There are probably some big changes coming at Y's work. I will do a separate post on that at a later time. He's not in danger of losing his job.

I just love paydays! I have ever since I got my first paying job. I can't imagine ever forgetting that it was payday. Have you ever forgotten about your payday?

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Holiday Commercials

I tend to get annoyed this time of year when I'm watching TV commercials. According to these commercials, my life would be splendid if my husband bought me diamonds or jewelry for Christmas. My kids would be perfectly behaved if I dressed them in perfect little outfits, gave them huge toys, and took them to a photo shoot where we dressed up as a British family drinking tea (WTH!).

The reality is that since we got married, my husband's gifts are on the very practical side. I think he will get me snowpants this year and he is giving me new black boots (that I ordered). I won't be getting diamonds but I will use my snowpants to play outside for many years to come with our kids.

The photo shoot this year consisted of both kids laying on the floor. The baby slept and Lil Punk made funny faces. There was no tea involved.

I just get so annoyed with the things that are pushed as happiness on TV. The commercials are so good though that sometimes I need to consciously remind myself of this.

Do these commercials annoy anybody else?

Monday, December 9, 2013

How To Save Without a Budget

I have read a number of blogs that swear one cannot save money without a budget. I beg to differ. When we were saving for a down payment for a house, we saved $40,000 in one year while making around $60,000 annually without a budget. (Y was in Iraq so his income was tax-free).

I followed two basic rules to save this much money.

1. We paid ourselves first.
2. We stopped spending when the money was gone.

First of all, when Y's paycheck was deposited, I transferred it all to our savings account. I did it on the day he was paid.

Second of all, I didn't spend any money when it ran out. This required a little bit of planning. If I had to fill up the car weekly and I didn't get paid for two weeks, I had to make sure I had enough money to fill it up next week. I paid the rent and utilities with my pay.

I didn't budget until much later in life and even now I will go months without budgeting. I have budgeted for the last two months more so to track our spending.

It is annoying to me when a blogger insists that you will end up destitute without budgeting. In a way, budgeting is for people with money. It allows us to spend money without any guilt. One will end up destitute if they don't save any money throughout their life but budgeting is not the only way to save money.

What about you? Do you budget? Have you saved money without budgeting?

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Grocery Spending and Menu Plan

I kept track of our spending for November and we were within budget except for one area, groceries. I budget $550 per month for groceries and we spent a whopping $710 last month. That is a lot of money for food for one month. There were a few WalMart charges and I'm not exactly sure what they were but I think groceries so they went in that category.

We really need to watch our spending. Thus far, we've spent $183 this month. I think the only thing I need to pick up is milk for the week. I made a menu plan last week prior to shopping.

This is what's on the menu for this week:

Asian Beef & Noodles
Pork Chops & Stuffing with veggies
Homemade chicken noodle soup
Mac n cheese with broccoli
Chicken Alfredo

How is your grocery spending going?

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Well Update: Yikes!!

We received the invoice for the our new well that I had been anxiously awaiting. It was for more than I wanted. It came in at $6109 for the well plus $900 for sealing the old well. We qualify for a coop with our county for the well sealing. I believe the county pays for 60% of the well sealing. We need to submit the final paperwork but its already been approved.

The quote for the well was between 5 and 6 thousand. We had them replace our outdoor water hydrant which we knew was additional, between $200-250. I didn't know that the well sealing wasn't included in the original quote but Y did. I guess this is an example of miscommunication between us.

Y is going to call them to see of they will give us a cash discount. We have $4500 in our regular savings and the remainder will come from our new car fund. 

I'm so disappointed in how much this invoice is because I was going to raid our new car fund to pay off my car loan. We still owe $5000 on my car and the new car fund is/was at $4550. We talked it over and even though my car is at 0% interest rate, we wouldn't take out a new car loan with your that out there anyway. If Y's pick-up dies and we need to finance a new (to us) one, we would pay off my car because we don't want to afford two car payments at one time. I have been very, very nervous about paying $1060 per month for daycare, so I wanted to pay off my car this year to lighten the burden.

Such is life...

Monday, December 2, 2013

Cyber Monday Shopping

I did very minimal shopping this weekend but I logged in this morning to check out the deals for Cyber Monday. I was looking for two very specific items.

I wanted to get Carhart bibs for Y. He asked for them for Christmas and its a super practical gift. He needs them for moving snow and playing outside with Lil Punk. The cheapest that I've seen them in the store is for $95. I found them today on Amazon for $90. I also used two $5 gift cards I obtained through Swagbucks. Considering I saved 5 bucks and didn't have to drive to get them, I consider this a win.

The other item I wanted was a little electric car for Lil Punk. The one I wanted has monster traction so she could ride it on gravel and grass. I had researched it and the one I wanted got great reviews. The issue was actually finding it. WalMart, Target and KMart were all sold out of it. I found it on Fisher Price's website for 25% off. It was on the expensive side at $207 total but I've debated buying one for a couple years. I have a couple other little gifts for her so I'm done shopping for her now.

Did you do Cyber Monday?