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Generation Change

September 27th, 2009 at 01:51 pm

Last week I started teaching Dave Ramsey's "Generation Change" curriculum to the teen Sunday School class. Now, if you knew me, it would be a big surprise that I would volunteer to do this because I am a very quiet person that rarely, if ever, speaks up in class. But this is such an important topic that most kids are not being taught at school or at home, that I had a burden to do it. I am hoping that they will finish this class with a sense of how to manage their finances while in college and as adults.

So far, the kids seem to be enjoying the class. The first lesson focuses on materialism and how we are more than just what we own. Next week we will get into the basics of personal finance and budgeting.

Last week I was extremely nervous, but this week I was surprised to find that I was fine. It doesn't make much sense since last week the class time was taken up mostly with the video part of the lesson and this week I had to talk the entire time. I'm hoping that each week gets easier. It's a subject I feel passionate about, so I think that helps tremendously. I am hoping to help just one teen avoid learning lessons the hard way, like we had to.


January 7th, 2009 at 04:02 pm

DH and I are going through FPU and we had decided that we are finally ready to take the step of stopping our retirement contributions temporarily so we can apply that money to the debt snowball. I had no problem stopping mine at work since I'm the one that does the payroll. DH went into his payroll department and was told that he can't stop his contributions until the beginning of the next quarter.

It's just very frustrating to finally have him on board and now we can't do this. It will really slow the debt snowball down. I guess I'm just anxious to get it done and get a fully-funded emergency fund.

Giving YNAB Another Try

March 7th, 2008 at 05:30 pm

I found my access key to download
Text is YNAB and Link is "www.youneedabudget.com
YNAB to my laptop. I thought I'd give this another try. I like the concept of it, but just never stuck with it long enough to make it work.

I have my budget entered and now I guess I need to go back and enter in my transactions for at least the month of February. It probably would be wise to spend the extra time and do the entire year so far so that I have a more accurate view of our finances.

I have to wait up for DS#3 to get back from a date anyway. Might as well make the time productive!

E-mealz Review

March 2nd, 2008 at 03:44 pm

I had mentioned
Text is e-mealz and Link is "www.e-mealz.com
e-mealz in a previous post. It is a site that, for $5 a month, provides you with menus and a grocery list for your dinners for a week. You pay for 3 months at a time and a new meal plan is posted once a week. My plan is available on Friday so when I log in I print out 2 copies of the menu and grocery list. One I place in a sheet protector in a 3-ring binder for future use and the other is the one I write on and mark up.

They have several plans to choose from. I chose the Point system meals for any grocery store, since I am counting Weight Watchers points to lose weight.

This will be our 3rd week using the plan and it appears that our average expense is $120 per week. That's about what we were spending before for a family of 5 and not having nearly as nice of meals as we are now.

Everyone in the family is really enjoying the meals. There is a lot of variety and the side dishes are wonderful. Our side dishes before amounted to opening a can of corn or beans. Now we have mandarin orange salad, honey-kissed slaw, oven roasted veggies, etc. Much tastier and healthier.

I think the thing that makes it most worth it to me is that I no longer have the dilemma of "what is for dinner?" and then wondering if I have all of the ingredients. It is a huge load off of my mind. That alone makes it worth it for me.

I like having a list of exactly what I need for each meal when I enter the grocery store. I am not a shopper so, for me, the grocery store is a mission. Get what we need and get out in as short a time as possible.

My grocery bill could be considerably less if we didn't drink as much milk as we do!!!

Helpful Personal Finance Calculator

February 6th, 2008 at 04:40 am

I found
Text is this personal finance calculator and Link is http://cgi.money.cnn.com/tools/budget101/budget_101.jsp
this personal finance calculator interesting this morning. According to it my budget is WAY off.

According to their percentage allotments, our housing & debt costs are fine. They recommend 30% and ours are at 24.34%.

Our insurance costs are slightly over what they should be. They recommend 4% and ours weigh in at 5.48%.

We are not saving near enough, which I expected since I'm throwing as much as I can toward the debt instead.

Our living expenses are really over the limit that they recommend. They say they should be at 26% of your income and ours come to 57.3%. I really don't see any way to cut those expenses. They are what they are and there's not much I can do about it. We need to heat our home, put gasoline in our cars so we can work and have money for prescriptions that we need.

All in all, it's a good tool to use to see how you measure up against the ideal budget and get a grasp on how you spend your money.

Little Expenses Add Up

February 4th, 2008 at 04:17 am

It seems to me that it's really not the big expenses that break my budget so much as it is the little ones that eat away at it bit by bit. This morning I had to write a check for DS#3's field trip for environmental science that he wants to go on. Only $25, but that's $25 that wasn't expected, so I have to take it out of the budget somewhere.

We've stopped paying the 2 youngest to do chores around the house because DH got tired of them not doing them correctly. So that money went back into the budget and I'm paying for the things, like this, that come up instead of them using their allowance. It's not often that they need money for things, so it's not a big deal. I'll account for it somewhere...

Gasoline Prices

January 30th, 2008 at 03:38 pm

I was so glad to pull up to the pump today and see that gas was back under $3.00 a gallon again. Who would have thought a few years ago that I'd be glad to see gas at $2.93 a gallon?

I know I'll be glad to get my snow tires off in a couple of months. They've cut my miles per gallon down quite a bit.

Still Plugging Along

October 27th, 2007 at 02:35 pm

I haven't been around much for months. I am still here and still paying down our debt. We will have the furniture paid off next month as long as the overtime continues like it has. Then it will be time to start on the car.

I decided to pay off the car since I checked the Blue Book price on it and it was nowhere near what I had thought it was. So since it is a depreciating item and the house isn't (well, depends on your take on the news lately!), I decided the car was the next debt to focus on.

I am in the middle of my accounting applications class and really enjoying it. Right now we're learning QuickBooks, which I use every day at work, so it's been a breeze. Next up is Turbo Tax. I'm really looking forward to that one.

Today we went car shopping with DS#2. He will be getting his license back soon since it's been 6 months since his last seizure. He has a job, but no car so he's looking for some wheels. It's very hard to find a car in his price range, but he's searching. He's found quite a few on a local site so we checked them out today. One of them is a strong possibility.

I found out a few weeks ago that I'm getting a nice merit raise next year, along with a cost of living raise. That will really help with the budget. I reworked my spreadsheet so that the items that are desperately under budgeted will have more funding.

We got quite a bit of home improvement work done this summer. That's why the net worth chart took a dip. We put on siding and a new porch roof. Now we're working on the kitchen addition.

Guess that's about it for now. Just wanted to drop in and say I'm still here. I hope to have more time to blog from here on out.

Unlimited Long Distance

August 16th, 2007 at 02:45 pm

I got a call a few weeks ago from our phone company offering us unlimited long distance. It sounded like a good idea, especially since DS#3 is calling his girlfriend long distance now and racking up $60 to $80 in long distance phone bills every month (which he pays for, by the way).

It was in the middle of a billing cycle so when our bill was posted yesterday I checked it out, but am still not sure exactly what the monthly bill is going to run us. I'm a little nervous that this is going to break my budget.

Anyone else have unlimited long distance and have a ballpark figure of what I can expect each month? Ours is through Frontier.

3 Debts in 3 Years

August 4th, 2007 at 02:08 pm

According to Quicken's Debt Reduction planner I will have 3 debts paid off in 3 years if I can continue to funnel as much money to them as I am now.

The furniture can be paid off in December 2007.

The smaller mortgage can be paid off in December 2008.

And the car loan can be paid off in December 2009.

That would be awesome! The only debt that would remain is the larger mortgage and that could be paid off in February 2013. Not bad at all!

Difference in Gasoline Prices

June 13th, 2007 at 05:20 am

It amazes me how there can be such a drastic difference in gasoline prices in the area that I travel frequently. In the town where I live gas is $3.15 a gallon. Here in the town where I work, which is only 18 miles away, it is only $2.95! That's quite a savings!

I've been keeping track of the mileage I get from both gas stations because I've heard that the one in my hometown gives you much better gas mileage. I haven't seen it yet. Both have been about the same, only a couple of a tenths of a mile difference. And that difference could easily be explained by the use of the air conditioner more frequently during that time.

What are the prices in your area?

Operating in the Dark

May 18th, 2007 at 03:58 am

I feel like I'm operating in the dark here without my Quicken program being fully functional. I had it all set up with reminders to pay all of my bills throughout the year. Now with having lost all of that, I'm afraid I'm going to miss something.

I am slowly adding the information back in as I go, but it's been slow and tedious. Just setting up the reminders for my transfers to ING each week was dicey since I'd also lost my budgeting spreadsheets. More reason to order a flash drive and start backing up onto that!

Feeling Squeezed

May 16th, 2007 at 03:35 am

I assume it's just the price of gas and the fact that we now have 7 to feed again for the summer since college is out, but I'm feeling the financial pinch. We just got rid of the credit card debt so you'd think that I'd have some extra money laying around. Not!

I am adding extra to the mortgage payment but that is all coming out of overtime pay.

I think what I need to do is get that EF back up to $1,000 and I'll probably relax a bit. It makes me nervous to not have some money tucked away, just in case.