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Archive for October, 2006

Cushion Fund

October 29th, 2006 at 04:41 pm



In Jane Bryant Quinn's book she recommends a Cushion Fund (a.k.a. Emergency Fund) of 3 months living expenses. This amount should include mortgage, groceries, car payment, gasoline, phone, utilities, insurance, minimum CC payments, health insurance, etc. Whatever bills you pay monthly should be figured into the amount you will need for 3 months.

She recommends not mixing this money in with other savings such as gifts, vacations, etc. because it's too easy to dip into.

Build up the cushion with automatic deposits from your checking account and any other bonuses or gifts you get.

She says for your own safety to build this account as fast as you can. If you have to tap into it, refill it as quickly as possible. This money should be kept in either a bank money-market deposit account or a money-market mutual fund.

I am doing this with my new account with Amboy. I am depositing $20 minimum into it each week. I would like to make it more, but until the kitchen addition is done I don't dare go over that amount. I want the addition paid for without adding to the CC debt.

On to Present & Future Value of Money

October 28th, 2006 at 03:59 pm



Well, the exam is over with. By the time I took it I was so sick of the subject that I just wanted it done. LOL!

Now onto the next chapter which is about bonds and present and future value of money. That will be interesting and practical for me.

The only money I spent today was for gas. Had to fill the car up after running to work and doctor's appointments this week.

I got my term life insurance application in the mail today. Got most of it filled out. It's not too complicated. The only problem I have is under "Contingent Beneficiary". There's only room for 2 names and I wanted to put the 5 kids. I don't know if I can just attach a sheet with the names or not. I was just going to put "children" but they want names, SSNs, etc.

Wish Me Luck!

October 27th, 2006 at 12:05 pm



Tomorrow I take my accounting exam that I was supposed to take last weekend. It never arrived. Turns out my professor sent it to the wrong library for proctoring! So I've been studying like mad to keep all the info in my head so I can pass this thing. It just threw me all off when I couldn't take it the day I'd planned on.

So now I'm running behind on the next lesson and hope to catch up on that one after the exam tomorrow morning. Like this isn't a busy enough season as it is!

Financial Tips

October 27th, 2006 at 02:33 am



Just wanted to sum up Jane Bryant Quinn's money tips. This is the order she says to do things in:

1. Retirement: must put away 10 or 15% of your income

2. Reduce, then eliminate CC debt

3. Create a Cushion Fund (Emergency Fund). If still in CC debt start with a cushion to cover expenses for 1 month.

4. College savings for kids. This is optional and should not come before saving for your own retirement. She says the kids can always get student loans but you can't get retirement loans.

5. Prepay your mortgage. This should come last on your priority list.

She says that you should count any contribution that your employer makes toward your retirement fund in the 10-15% that you should be saving off the top.

I guess we're doing well with that because both of us have 5% withheld from our paychecks and both of our employers match that.

We're working on #2, but at the same time that we're also working on #3. I'll be happy just to get to $1,000 let alone one month's worth of expenses.

No Longer New

October 26th, 2006 at 02:58 pm



My blog is no longer listed under "New Blogs" on the main page. Does that make me an old-timer now?

The balance in the change box is decreasing rapidly. DD#2 was asked to go to the last home volleyball game with a friend and needed money to get in. Then DS#2 needed an extra quarter so he could get in. So just when I was close to breaking $5, I'm at just above half of that now.

Came home from work early today to get a dessert made for DH for his men's meeting tonight. He had also come home early to work on the kitchen addition since it was one of the few days this week with no rain or snow. Got his paycheck ready to deposit tomorrow morning and have a transfer set up for tomorrow into the Amboy account. That will bring us to $255 for the EF.

Ordered DS#2's Christmas presents today so that's one more down. I've got a bid in on an Ipod on Ebay for DS#3. I'll bid up to the amount we spend and if it goes above, I'll look at other options for him.

Grocery Day

October 26th, 2006 at 02:24 am

Yesterday was grocery shopping day. DH and I went to Save-a-Lot this week. He had never been there before. We ended up spending $90.64. So with the $43 I sent to Angel Food Ministries for November (got an extra meat package that sounded good) we went over budget this week, but hopefully will be seeing our freezer a bit fuller than normal.



Also had to take DS#2 to the doctor yesterday for his ears. They are still plugged, but the doctor said the infection is gone. So hopefully they'll clear up soon on their own. Paid them $30, $15 for DS#2 and $15 for DD#2's visit a few weeks ago. Figured I'd save the stamp for her bill as long as I was going.

After the doctor's visit we stopped by McDonald's so I could get a drink and I bought DS#2 dinner to eat on the way home. So I spent some of my $50 for the month. Now the trick will be to hang on to what's left for as long as possible.

Medical bills this year have been taking their toll. DS#2 has had several visits with specialists, but no ER visits so far. In August of 2005 he had 2 hemiplegic migraines within 6 days and ended up at the ER both times because we had no idea what was going on. When a 15 year old has symptoms of a stroke it's pretty scary! He was finally diagnosed with the migraines but I'm not totally convinced that that is what is going on, so he has an appointment with another neurologist the end of November. We have good insurance but those copays sure add up quickly. I want him checked again for Chiari's Malformation, a condition where part of your brain extends down into your spinal column. They found on one of his 6 MRIs in the past year that his brain is not all contained in his skull and does extend down into the spinal column, but they say it's not far enough to qualify as Chiari's. He had an episode in the shower one day though that he moved his neck a certain way to stretch it and he totally lost his hearing for a couple of minutes!!! Also, the 2nd migraine we know for sure came on suddenly after he circled his neck around while stretching. So I'd like a 2nd opinion on that.

Reading a Book

October 25th, 2006 at 02:20 am

But what's new? I'm a librarian and I'm always reading a book. :-)

The book I'm reading now is Jane Bryant Quinn's Smart and Simple Financial Strategies for Busy People. I have already found some things that I don't agree with 100%, but there are some good tips in here. It seems to be geared more toward those that haven't given a thought to their finances yet. But if I come away with a few good pointers, it will be worth it.

I also have Personal Finance for Dummies in the reading pile.

Working on the Insurance Issue

October 24th, 2006 at 02:37 pm



I submitted a request before I left for work this morning with Zander Insurance for applications for both DH and I for term insurance. By the time I got home they had already called. I returned the call and they have sent the applications in the mail and we'll be contacted soon for the paramedical exam.

DH doesn't qualify for the company we originally selected, but they recommended another that he would qualify under. It's not much more a month and compared to what we have now is still a great deal.

I have been worried for so long about something happening to one of us because I know we don't have near enough insurance. This will really help ease my mind.

Angel Food Ministry

October 24th, 2006 at 02:30 pm



Got the information sheet today for the local Angel Food Ministry. I think I'll give it a try next month. You get quite a bit of food for the $25 and it's all stuff we would use. No one here is picky about their food! They also have meat packages that you can buy extra and they also sound like a good deal. Might see if my aunt would also like to do this. I don't know if she'd use a lot of it though.

Also glad to report that I still have all of my $50. Normally I would have spent some of it today while out doing my delivery, but I didn't. Just hate to break those 10s and 20s.

Today's Bill Payments

October 24th, 2006 at 03:20 am

I have 2 checks to put in the mail this morning:

phone = $46.78
cable/internet= $54.58 (just realized that I had 454.58 here!) LOL! My keyboard at home doesn't always shift when I tell it to!

Also need to get gas in my car before heading to work. That's usually around $25.

DH will also be picking up laundry detergent on his way home from work. That's costs $32.35 for a tub that lasts approximately 4-7 weeks depending on how much laundry college kids bring home.

Long Night Last Night

October 24th, 2006 at 03:17 am



I believe I've mentioned how much I love to work on my budget. Well.....last night I spent from 6 pm until 10 pm setting up my spreadsheet differently so that it matched my actual budget book more. I had originanlly set up this spreadsheet when I took my Personal Finance class this summer. I had used their categories and was having to combine some of our expensed in order to match. I decided to make it easier on myself.

So I now have a spreadsheet that matches my budget book exactly! Much easier to see where money is going (didn't like that part one bit!) and where I need to budget more.

Clothing is 4 times what I have budgeted!!! I knew it was over, but not by that much! It is awfully expensive with 5 teenagers to try to keep clothes on their backs that fit! And our kids are not the type that have to have the latest fashions. They're so used to hand-me-downs that new clothes are a real luxury.

It also hasn't helped that I've needed so many clothes lately. I'm hypothyroid and over the past 3 years had managed to take off almost 50 pounds. Well, the beginning of this year it came back on with a vengeance, all in the space of just a few months. It took many months for me to put the symptoms together and realize what was wrong. Usually when my thyroid decides to take a vacation I am so tired that I cannot function. This time I had insomnia. So anyway....new clothes for me in bigger sizes really messed up my clothing allowance.

My repair account for my van that we traded in was also double what I had planned for since the engine went and had to be replaced. It was also rusting so once we got a used engine in it we decided to trade it in on a 2005 Equinox.

My furniture/appliance account really took a beating this year too, because we finally replaced the old, worn out washer and dryer plus got new living room furniture. Believe me, it was time for all 3 of them! The kids and I were sick to death of having to sit on the washer each time it spun. Otherwise, it would walk across the bathroom floor. We had a repairman in and it was not worth fixing. We had been doing this for almost 10 years!!! I LOVE my new washer. LOL!

So anyways, that's the results I found from my long evening of crunching numbers. Should have been studying my Accounting 2 lesson, but personal finance is always more interesting to me!

'Tis Done!

October 23rd, 2006 at 03:14 pm



The first thing I did when I got home today was to get my Amboy account activated. I think I've even figured out how you transfer money to and from it also. I'll give it a try on Thursday when DH gets paid.

I'm thinking that I'm going to follow Dave Ramsey's advice and get our EF back up to $1,000 before I pay extra on the CCs again. I really do have a much better peace of mind when I know that money is there. I'm finding that I'm not sleeping well at night because I keep waking up and thinking of all that could happen that there wouldn't be money for. Not good, I know, but that's how I am. I like to have that little nest egg available.

Got paid another 10 cents for doing laundry. Added it to the change box.

Yippee and Darn!

October 23rd, 2006 at 10:36 am

I have been waiting all weekend for the small deposits to show up in my checking account from Amboy so that I could verify them and get my new savings account going. Well, wouldn't you know, I just checked and they're there, but the email and password are in my home email and I can't access it from work! I wish I'd thought to email a copy to my Yahoo account so I could have done it now. Oh well! I guess this evening will be soon enough. I'm just ready to make some "real" interest and not that piddling little 1.24% we've been getting!

Stocking up the Food Supply at Work

October 23rd, 2006 at 05:45 am



I needed to stop by the grocery store on my way to work so I had some food here. I got 2 Yoplait Smoothies (65 cents each), bananas (3 pounds for $1), salsa, cracker jacks, honey roasted peanuts and a king size Reese's Cups for a total of $9.77. I'm trying to get my diet gluten-free to see if it helps with some symptoms I've been having. So I'm trying to concentrate mainly on meats, dairy, veggies, and fruit. I already have an apple, cherry tomatoes, and a potato at work.

Had to give up 60 cents out of my change box for youngest DD's library fines at school.

Also paid DH's life insurance for the month. That was $58.75. Need to get busy looking into term life insurance!

Drat!

October 22nd, 2006 at 03:43 pm



Today was a no-spend day (well, minus putting our tithe check in the offering, but that was written on Thursday) until youngest DD came home with a bloody knee. We only had one large bandaid left and I knew by the looks of the wound that she'd need more than that before tomorrow night when I could stop on my way home from work. So off we went to the Dollar General again. We went ahead and bought 3 boxes of them since they were only $1.50 each. I'd have easily spent $3 or $4 a box at the local grocery store 3 blocks away. We each also got a soft drink. So total spending was $6.83.

While we were out I got my $50 cash for the month out of the ATM. I'll be getting my paycheck from my bookkeeping job tomorrow night, so that will be deposited to cover the withdrawal. Now the trick will be to see if I can stretch it out over the month until the next one.

One Cent

October 22nd, 2006 at 04:34 am

That's how much I got "paid" for helping with the leaves yesterday afternoon.

DH came home from working 8 hours of Saturday overtime and immediately started raking the yard so I felt badly. I had cleaned house all day, but thought we could chat as we worked. After he raked several piles our middle DS and I bagged the leaves. We found a penny at the bottom of one of the piles so that is going into the change box.

Dollar General

October 21st, 2006 at 07:25 am



When I went to get the mail I ran up to our Dollar General to get DH some deoderant and the kids some chapstick. They didn't have the deoderant so I just ended up with 3 tubes of Blistex that came to $3.18.

Added .65 to my change box. This is change from sending a package to Canada.

Ordered my oldest DS's Christmas present. That went on the CC but I have the money in savings so that will be transferred over and paid off on Monday so that it doesn't add to the total. 2 Christmas gifts down, 4 to go for the immediate family! I will get my parents a gift certificate to a restaurant, as always. Last year we tried to get them each a gift but they just ended up returning them so we decided might as well stick to the tried and true. We will also get my aunt a gift certificate but it will be to the grocery store in town. She is disabled and lives on a fixed income so this is the best way to help her.

Still Waiting....

October 21st, 2006 at 05:14 am

I'm still waiting for the 2 deposits from Amboy to show up in my account so I can verify them. I was hoping that they'd be there yesterday since the email from Amboy said that they were deposited. Well, maybe Monday....

Spent $1 Yesterday

October 21st, 2006 at 04:20 am



Yesterday I spent $1. That was for a candy bar from my daughter's box of candy bars that is a fundraiser for band. That is going to be a temptation since it will be sitting around the house until they're all sold.

My co-worker bought my 2 Dr. Peppers to have at work. I tried to reimburse her but she wouldn't let me.

Oh yeah, I also paid the gas bill yesterday. That was $51.05. Next month it will be much higher because last week our circuit board on our pellet stove blew just as the temps were falling, so we had to use our ventless gas heater for 5 days while we waited for our $229.59 circuit board to arrive. I just hated the thought of using that gas when all the bags of wood pellets are sitting around. We stocked up on pellets this summer while the price was cheaper. I think totally we bought 4 tons, which should last most of the winter. We also wanted to be ahead of the game because last year they started rationing wood pellets in our area. So many people had switched to pellet stoves to try to save on gas bills that the supply just wasn't enough.

I'm supposed to take my Accounting 2 exam today, but it never arrived in the mail yesterday. So my proctor gave me the key to get the library's mail this morning and if it's in the mail I'm supposed to call her and she'll come to the library so that I can take it. Just a note: I used to be the librarian at this library and I still do their bookkeeping. They don't just hand out the key to get the mail to anyone. LOL!

Should be getting my check for the bookkeeping job ($50) next week. The challenge for me will be to stretch it out for the month. I use this to buy my lunch and drinks when I do my book deliveries. I try to take snack foods with me since there's not always places to stop, but it is nice to have a warm meal once in a while and not just pb&j.

Amboy Account

October 20th, 2006 at 10:55 am

I got an email a little bit ago that my Amboy account has been opened!



I have to verify the small deposits, but I went online and they aren't posted yet. I'm hoping after 2 this afternoon they will be there. I'm anxious to get going on this savings fund.

Starting a Small Weekly Savings

October 19th, 2006 at 05:05 pm

Last entry of the day, I promise!

I'm excited about opening the Amboy account so I sat down tonight to determine what budget category I could shave $5 off of a week to contribute to the account, along with whatever overtime money I put in. So I decided since my car is newer, hopefully it won't have as many repairs as my husband's 1989 truck. I cut the car repair account to $15 a week. So at least $5 a week will go to the new Amboy emergency fund. Better than nothing!



I also started saving any change that I have in a box that is on the top of my computer desk. Each day I will put any change I have in my purse and whatever change I "earn" for doing laundry. When it gets to a decent amount, that money will also go into the EF. Now to keep others out of it!!!

__________________________________________

Also, just wanted to add that I'm so glad I found this site! I tried a blog before but just couldn't find anything to blog about! But get me started on money and I could probably blog all day!

And I think it's really going to keep me motivated to save and pay down the debt!

Possible New Part-time Job

October 19th, 2006 at 04:42 pm

I forgot to mention that I may have a 2nd part-time bookkeeping job.

It would be for another of the libraries in the System that I work for. I love to do bookkeeping work, and that's why I'm taking the accounting classes, so this would be wonderful. My side business would double!

Emergency Fund Account

October 19th, 2006 at 03:41 pm

We decided that we would take our measly Emergency Fund and open an account with Amboy. It's not much, but it's a start. I plan on contributing weekly out of my husband's overtime to get it to a minimum of $1,000. This will be my first financial goal.



I know there is debate about paying off credit cards first or having a baby emergency fund. For me, it's better to have the EF. It gives me a better piece of mind so that I don't worry quite as much about finances if I know there is some money if we have a need. I think by having it in this account, we won't be so apt to dip into it to pay for everyday expenses like we would if it were in our regular savings.

Money in the Mail!!!

October 19th, 2006 at 12:22 pm



Woo hoo!!! Got home today from work and found a check in the mail! Turns out that when we traded in our van, $11.08 extra was paid so they sent it back to us. Not a windfall, but hey, I'll take it.

Grocery Shopping

October 19th, 2006 at 02:54 am



Last night was grocery shopping night.

Overall, I don't think we did too badly. We spent $115 on groceries, which is $15 more than budgeted, but we were seriously low on everything. I will take the extra out of overtime money. I hate to do that, but I don't want to keep running a deficit in my grocery money category.

DH picked up 2 DVDs that he's been wanting to see that the kids will also enjoy. I grimaced to myself, but how can I recommend we don't buy them when he works all this overtime and then comes home and spends the evenings working on the kitchen addition? He certainly deserves to spend some money on something that he enjoys. And since we rarely go to the movies or even rent a movie, I don't think it was too extravagant.

* Tried to add a picture in this post, but guess I'm going to have to work on figuring that one out.

New Credit Card Charge

October 18th, 2006 at 04:29 am

I had to update the CC balance because my husband charged $70.78 on the card for material he needed for the kitchen addition. I will be able to pay this amount on top of the regular CC payment though, so it will be paid off when the next payment is made.

What to do with a Raise?

October 18th, 2006 at 03:33 am

At the beginning of the year I'll be getting a cost of living raise plus a merit raise. It is going to amount to $38.67 more each paycheck (bi-weekly).



I've been debating what to do with this raise. I would love to apply it all to debt, but I'm thinking that I really should put it towards my clothing category since it is notoriously underfunded and hence, clothing expense tends to go on the credit card.

Right now it seems to make more sense to me to get my budget categories to a reasonable amount so that CC spending is limited and/or halted altogether.

I have a couple of months to mull this over and make a decision, but I'm really leaning toward more for clothing.

My Budget

October 18th, 2006 at 03:13 am

Thought I would post my budget here. It is always changing, but not by a whole lot. I adjust it a bit here and there as bills go up and down. There are always areas that are not funded enough though, like clothing and medical.



Weekly:
Tithe: $53
Allowance: $60 (this is my husband's cash that he buys gasoline from each week and uses the remainder for whatever he wants)
Eating out: $15
Groceries: $100
Utilities: $92.39 (this includes: electric, gas, water, phone, cable & internet)
School lunches: $14.54
Insurances: $59.82 (life, disability, car)
Medical: $20
Clothing: $6.56 (WAY underfunded)
Daughter's allowance: $5.00 (she pays her flute payments with this money)
Home repairs: $20
Vehicle repairs: $40
Wood pellets: $35
Occupational tax: $7
Gifts: $20

Bi-weekly:
Tithe: $60
Gasoline for my car: $70
Furniture payment: $35.54
Car Payment: $137.99
Mortgage: $262.93
Credit Card: $31.48

My husband has been getting quite a bit of overtime lately so that has been going to getting our house fixed up and also to the credit card payments. I typically take an extra $50 out of his overtime money weekly to apply toward that. The rest has been going to buy clothing lately because our 3 kids at home have hit the teenage growth spurt all at once. OT pay has also been going into a small addition to the kitchen so that we can put our coal stove in there so we have heat. We have gone 4 years with no heat in the kitchen.

I have a part-time bookkeeping job for a library that pays me $50 a month. That is my "allowance" to spend as I please.

I should also add that our youngest daughter is the only one that we give an allowance to because both of the 2 boys at home have their own jobs (delivering newspapers & working after school at a mechanic's).

My Chance of Becoming a Multimillionaire

October 17th, 2006 at 11:48 am



Your Chances of Being a Multimillionaire: 60%




You have a decent shot at being a multimillionaire. Surprised?
You're confident and a hard worker. Keep it up!

Will You Be a Multimillionaire?

Financial Goals

October 17th, 2006 at 11:41 am

My financial goals are:

- pay off the small credit card and use it only for the things that are billed to it (youngest daughter's flute payments, mail-order medicine, etc.) or that will be paid off each month.

- get the big credit card paid off as soon as possible. Any extra income that is not going towards the house repairs will go toward this. There will be a profit-sharing check in early December. After tithe amount, the balance will be applied to the CC.

- go through Christmas with no added debt. I faithfully put aside money each week towards gifts so the challenge is not to spend above that amount.


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