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Archive for August, 2007

A $7.54 Confession

August 31st, 2007 at 06:02 pm

I broke the budget today. It was such a beautiful day. I went and bought a 6 pack of Mikes Hard Lemonade and sat outside for an hour reading a book and enjoying a drink. I love to sit outside and read, and this was the first opportunity I've had to do this in my new house. It was so nice to be in my own place. So, that splurge put me slightly over budget. But the booze was on clearance!

I took yesterday and today off from work. I spent most of today cleaning my vinyl siding. It was filthy. I still have the back of the house and one more side to do. That was hard work, but the house looks so much nicer now.

I also got estimates from tree trimming companies. I have a large cedar tree growing right next to my house that I need to do something about. I was originally thinking of just trimming it back, but now I'm leaning towards removing the tree entirely. I just think it will always be a problem, so I might as well bite the bullet and remove it now. It does provide a bit of privacy, though, so I'll hate to lose that.

I got estimates from 3 companies. One was very professional, but also very expensive: $675. YIKES. One company gave me a good price, but he didn't seem very professional. The third company that came out today is probably who I'll have do the work. His price was $355, and he was very professional and knowledgeable. So, anyway, I hate to spend the money on this, but I also don't want to have any damage done to the house or to the roof.

Too Much Month at the End of the Money

August 28th, 2007 at 06:52 pm

That's what this month is like. I won't get paid by my full time job until Sept. 5. I will get a check from my part time job on Friday, but I'm expecting that to be less than $100. And, of course, the mortgage payment is due on the 31st. That doesn't leave much left over for things like groceries. And, of course, this is a long holiday weekend. I could transfer a little money from my savings to tide me over if needed, but I'm trying not to do that.

I got my electric bill yesterday. Most expensive yet at $142. I was expecting it to be bad with the heat wave. Can't wait for things to cool off.

Foreclosures

August 25th, 2007 at 03:53 pm

I found this article in my local newspaper and thought it was a very interesting read:
http://www.showmenews.com/2007/Aug/20070825Busi004.asp

Of course, I figured the rate of foreclosures was up, but I didn't realize by how much. And this is a town with a fairly stable employment pool, so there haven't been big layoffs or anything of that nature feeding this.

I also found it interesting that the representative from the banking association points to sub-prime lenders as the problem, not reputable commercial banks, and yet 20 out of the 35 foreclosures in July in my county were by traditional banks.

I can't believe people can live with such filth. I guess when you realize you're losing your house, you just don't give a hoot anymore.



Check from Home Warranty

August 25th, 2007 at 12:37 pm

I picked up the mail today and found a check from the home warranty for the AC repair. I was surprised it came so quickly, since I just faxed the repair receipt to the company on Monday. So, kudos to them. I thought I'd have to keep hounding them to get anything back. The check was for $653 and the total cost of the repair was $928, so the cost to me was under $300. I'm very glad about that.

I opened an ING Orange account earlier this week with about $150. I have my emergency fund in a money market mutual fund with American Funds, but I thought I'd try ING for extra savings. Since my Furniture Row debt is at no payments, no interest until June 08, I thought I'd make payments to ING instead of Furniture Row, and then pay that debt off in May. Or sooner, with any luck saving.

One other observation-I've got to get better at buying only from my list at the grocery store. I stayed well within my budget today, but I still bought more "what the heck" items than I should have.

First 2 Weeks of Budgeting

August 17th, 2007 at 05:36 pm

I managed to stay within my budget the last 2 weeks. In fact, I have about $10 that I didn't spend. I did overspend in certain categories, like groceries, but what I saved in others still kept me in budget. There are a few things I might have to modify. For example, one of the reasons I went over the grocery budget is that I spend about $8 every week in weight watchers 2 Point Bars. Since I work there I get them at half price, but that still is expensive.

I just finished coming up with my budget for the next two weeks. Wow, lots of bills to pay ($1500). I've never really had to pay such tight attention to my cash inflow and outflow. It really makes me a bit stressed out. Still, this month is very unusual since I put the down payment for my car ($500) on a credit card. I don't want to pay interest on that so I'm paying it all this month.

The Importance of an Emergency Fund

August 15th, 2007 at 05:13 pm

Dang it is hot, hot, hot here in Missouri. And of course, nothing like a heat wave to confirm that, yes, that AC isn't cooling like it should. So, the cooling company came out today. 2 parts on the AC were defective, plus the unit had not been cleaned in a very long time. I just bought this place a few months ago, and the house was a rental unit before, so I doubt they took great care of it.

It was expensive to fix. But the sellers paid for a home warranty as part of our contract, so much of the expense will be covered by the warranty. As I was writing the check, I thought about how glad I was that I had the money available to write a check for the service. Sure, I don't want to spend it. But, that's just part of the joys of home ownership, right? It just gives you a certain amount of confidence to know those funds are there. Now I just have to replenish that Emergency Fund.

Citizen's Auto Finance

August 11th, 2007 at 01:37 pm

Does any one here have any experience with this company? My new car loan is from Citizens. I have yet to receive any information from them regarding my loan, and my first payment is due on the 27th of August. So, Wednesday I finally found their phone number (thanks to a Yahoo Answers question--the phone number is not on any of my documents and I couldn't find a website) and gave them a call. They said they do the billing for the month on the 7th. Well, now it is the 11th, and I still don't have a bill from them. Plus, their website is really terrible and it costs an extra $12 to make an online payment. Really stupid.

My last car loan came from a bank that sent a book of vouchers at the beginning of the loan. Now I guess most companies don't do that anymore. I much prefer the old way, and I'd prefer to pay online. I think it is crazy to charge extra for that feature.

Sticking to My Budget

August 10th, 2007 at 04:08 pm

Last week, I came up with a 2 week budget. So, one week into it, and I find I'm doing pretty well sticking to it. I just sat down and tallied up what remains for each of my categories. I'm pretty sure I won't go over the whole budget, but might go over on categories like groceries. But I have been able to save in other categories by combining a sale with a Target gift card I had--24 cans of Fancy Feast for 5.73.

I'm really focusing on this and being strict this month, cutting back to bare bones in order to get spending under control. I've had 5 no spend days since the first of this month. Not too bad.

I'm also trying to think of other ways to save. I'm now spending $85 a month on cable. If I switch to satellite I could save $40 a month. That's a lot of money. Yes I know I could save even more if I don't have either service, but I'm a TV freak, so that would be a hard change to make.

Tracking All Spending-YIKES

August 5th, 2007 at 10:45 am

I have been tracking every dime I spend for the last 3 weeks. It has really been an eye-opening experience for me.

Week One: $272.06 This was a tough week because I traveled to Kansas City for a family birthday party, so my gas expenses were higher than normal. And this total also includes $80 for birthday gifts (for sister, niece and BIL).

Week Two: $209.22 Getting a little bit better. But I still overspent for useless stuff totaling about $30 for things like Chick Fil A, breakfast biscuit at Hardee's, a 6 pack of beer and various other snack foods. This is way too much to be tossing away each week.

Week Three: $79.99 Much better. Useless expenses down to $11.75. Most of the weeks spending has gone towards groceries and gas. Also, I had 3 days this week where I didn't spend anything at all. And one day of no driving.

This process has made me much more aware of how much extra money I'm spending here and there. And now that I see how that stuff adds up, I think more before I grab something from the vending machine or grab some fast food.

An Introduction

August 4th, 2007 at 06:14 pm

I've never really worried about money before. Although I'm fairly frugal with my money, I have never tried to stay on a budget before. Yes, I have a budget set up in MS Money, but I never stressed about sticking to it. And I always seemed to have the money I needed to get by.

But 2007 has changed all that. I bought a house in May. This was a good move for me financially, since I won't be tossing my money away on rent anymore. But I've also spent a ton of money since May buying things I need for the new home: lawnmower, weed whacker, tools, furniture. It seems like there is always something I need for the house.

Buying a house was a smart move, but I have also made a couple of other money decisions that weren't so wise. In July, I purchased a new (to me) car. So, after years of having no car payment, I'm facing years of debt. I like the car, but I'm not sure this is the wisest decision I've made.

So, instead of stressing about what I've done, I've decided it is time to get proactive with my finances and get rid of that debt as fast as possible.

So, here's where I stand: I have $1580 left to pay on the new furniture I bought for the house. And $15,995 for the car.

I know I can reel my spending in and save money, and I'm excited to see what I can learn in this process.