Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Weekly Money Check-Up

Here is my Weekly Money Check-Up, courtesy of My Pretty Pennies.

1. The most I’ve spent this last week was on our Thanksgiving feast! When we went grocery shopping I didn't think too much about our budget and our allotted food money. I wanted to make it special and went a little overboard.

2. Today I feel nervous towards money. With my ticket I just got and my husband's possible medical issues, I'm feeling a bit nervous about money.

3. Money can’t buy happiness. One free/inexpensive thing I did last week that made me happy was hanging up some Christmas decorations. I just LOVE the way the house looks when it's all decorated and although I was sick with a cold, I was able to get some lights and decorations up. Next, the tree!

4. I will consider this week a success if I get healthy and put this cold behind me. In my job, December is a busy month and the faster I can get rid of this cold, the better!

5. My favorite holiday song is Mele Kalikimaka - The Hawaiian Christmas Song! I love it. It's such a happy, upbeat song. I can't help but sing along :) Spending a Christmas in Hawaii with my toes in the sand, listening to this song is on my bucket list.

Monday, November 29, 2010

$446 or more!

I hope that you all had a nice Thanksgiving! Sorry I didn't get a chance to come on here and do some blogging. Unfortunately, I had to return the device back to work that allows me to use the internet for free from home. So, I had to wait until I had access again to get on here.

Our long weekend was so/so. Got some bad news when we got home on Wednesday. Turns out I rolled a stop when I was taking a right on a red light and I had a citation waiting for me in the mail. I've never had a ticket before. It looks like they will send me the actual amount owed in the mail but from my research, the fine starts at $446 and goes up from there. I am so bummed and mad at myself. I'm normally a very safe driver and I can't believe that I did that. Things are so high tech nowadays, that I actually got to go online and see the video of me doing it! Seeing is believing :(

In addition, we're both fighting off colds, so we spent most of our time at home. My husband ended up having a couple of bad panic attacks though and we ended up in the ER again. Poor guy just can't seem to kick them. He plans to see another Dr soon to see what's up.

All in all, things are okay. We got to enjoy a lovely, simple Thanksgiving together - our first one as a married couple :) Looking forward to many more!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Weekly Money Check-Up

Here's my Weekly Money Check-Up, courtesy of My Pretty Pennies :)

1. The most I’ve spent this last week was on our car payment. This is only our 2nd car payment out of several, so we've got a long journey here, but one that I'm okay with right now.

2. Today I feel challenged by money. I keep looking at each week as a challenge. When we fill our envelopes with our spending money, I feel challenged to stay within our budget and make it work.

3. Money can’t buy happiness. One free/inexpensive thing I did last week that made me happy was moving our bedroom furniture around. I spent all day on Sunday rearranging our bedroom and I love how it looks now. I like change and I'm the type of person who gets bored with the same old, same old, so although I'm sore and have several pulled muscles, I love the new layout of our room!

4. I will consider this week a success if I find something inexpensive for us to do on our days off. This is our first long weekend since we started our budget and I hope we are able to stay on track and within budget.

5. My favorite food at Thanksgiving is mashed sweet potatoes. My grandmother gave me the recipe a few years back and I've tried to make it yearly ever since. It's a wonderful southern recipe with pecans and cinnamon on top. Yummmm!

Monday, November 22, 2010

A new way of thinking...

I'm changing. In the past, I would just go out and buy something when I wanted it. It didn't matter if it was an hour out of the way, if I wanted to get something, I got it. Now, not only do I not buy it on impulse, but I'm also not going to spend my gas money or put miles on the new car, just to get it!

I received a gift card to Nordstrom for my wedding. I don't shop there so I wasn't sure what I'd be able to use it on. My only knowledge of the store is that it's pretty costly. I looked online and found out that they sell some lip gloss that I love - score! I ran out of it about 2 weeks ago and wanted to get a replacement, but at $18 there was no way I was going to pay for it out of pocket.

Unfortunately only certain Nordstrom locations carried it so I was stuck either shipping it (at a ridiculous price) or driving 30 minutes out of my way to get it at the store. Although I wanted it LIKE YESTERDAY, I didn't really NEED to have it. So, I waited (patiently) until we were already in the area for something else and I picked it up with the gift card. I know it sounds minor, but this is progress for me :) I think many of us have gotten into our current situations because we make too many rash, unplanned for purchases. It's a process to change your way of thinking and I just took a step in the right direction. Yayyy me!

Question : What little steps have you taken in your get out of debt journey that you are proud of?

Friday, November 19, 2010


First off, my apologies for not blogging much this week. I've been on a quest this week to find ways to lower our bills. I'm determined to find us less expensive housing and get my husband a new, better paying job. So, any downtime that I've had has been put towards those efforts. I think my eyes may fall out of my head! I've spent so many hours online searching and searching for housing and jobs.

The quest will continue into the weekend, as we tour local apartment complexes and search the want ads. Hopefully I'll have some good news to report next week! Have a great weekend everyone :)

Monday, November 15, 2010

Weekly Money Check-Up

Courtesy of My Pretty Pennies, here is my weekly money check-up :)

1. The most I’ve spent this last week was on our credit card payment... followed closely by our car payment. Ugh, what a waste of money. It is what it is though and if we stick to our plan, this payment will go away and I'll have happier things to post that we're spending our money on... like maybe a retirement plan!

2. Today I feel pretty fabulous towards money. If you saw my earlier post today, we received a check from our in-laws that allowed us to fully fund our emergency savings account! I feel pretty fabulous about it :)

3. Money can’t buy happiness. One free/inexpensive thing I did last week that made me happy was watched last week's episode of Dexter (which we love!) streaming online for FREE (besides the small cost for the electricity). We canceled our cable last week but were able to use my work laptop and wireless card, to tap into my sister's online account and get access to our dear cable shows. Score!

4. I will consider this week a success if I make it through to Friday without any unexpected expenses coming up. Again, it's a tight week budget-wise, so I'll be thrilled to make it to Friday (read: PAYDAY) without anything happening.

5. I am afraid of ants. I don't want to be, but I am. The tiny little ones drive me crazy. I absolutely can't stand them. I'm okay with spiders, snakes, and all the other stuff but ants are my kryptonite!

Emergency Savings - Fully Funded!

Our emergency savings is now fully funded! Thanks to my new in-laws who sent us a very lovely wedding present, we've been able to fully fund our emergency savings account. This is super news! I've been kind of stressing lately over how we were going to get everything done (emergency savings, deposit on a new apartment and paying down our debt), then BAM, we receive a check in the mail on Saturday :) Needless to say, I was very surprised by their kindness. I deposited the check first thing this morning. I hope to transfer it over to our savings account later this week. Now, anything extra we get can be sent straight to the credit cards to help lower our debt quicker! Yippee :) I hope the week continues to be filled with good things.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Budget Update

First of all, Happy Veteran's Day and Thank You to those Veteran's out there!

Today I got a pleasant surprise when I found out I was paid early because of Veteran's Day. I was so excited that I spent my whole lunch hour online paying bills. Okay, I just re-read that sentence and I sound like a complete dork, but I don't really care! I'm hoping that if you're reading this, you are kinda obsessed with your finances, like I am, so perhaps you can appreciate it and maybe even do the same thing? :)

Anyway, this week I got our account down to 6 cents! Yippee :) I'm proud. That's progress from when I started this last week and felt a little embarrassed to be so low. Now, I hold my head up high. I even showed a friend my checkbook and how little I had in it! Way to go me. The way our budget is set up, my husband and I get paid on opposite Fridays. My checks go to our bills for the month and his checks go to gas and groceries, so his becomes our actual cash that we play with. I'm loving the envelope thing and I've already convinced my hubby to look for the least expensive gas and make sure to get a receipt so we can track it.

One thing that came up while paying the bills was that I had a little extra in our account after paying the mandatory bills. I was torn on transferring it to our pretty much non-existent savings account, or putting it on a credit card that has a very high interest rate. I decided to put it towards savings. This was a bit tough for me, but I know why it makes sense. As Dave Ramsey points out... if you don't have an emergency savings account to fall back on when an emergency happens (WHICH IT WILL), you're stuck putting more money on your credit cards. In theory it all seems perfectly logical... it was just tough to do for some reason. I guess I think of all that interest building up on the credit cards and I just want to pay it off fast. Again, the magic word this week for me appears to be patience!

Question : For those of you who follow Dave Ramsey's seven steps, was it hard for you to build up your emergency savings account? Did you feel a strong desire to throw every extra penny towards your debt instead?

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

The hunt is on!

So, in an effort to reduce our monthly expenses even further, we've been hunting for a new place to live. We currently rent a fairly large condo for $1375 a month. It's much further North than our jobs and we carpool together about 60 miles a day (round-trip) between work and home. The commute is rough on us. It's constant stop and go on a very busy highway. We'd like to try to move further South so we can 1) be closer to our jobs, which will lower what we spend on gas, 2) hopefully reduce our monthly rent and 3) reduce our stress levels with our daily commute. I've sworn to my husband that the highway we drive on will be the death of me!

Although places further South typically cost more, for less living space we realize it's the best option for us right now. We're in a 1300+ SF, 2 bedroom/2 bath condo on a nice golf course. Realistically we'll probably have to downsize to about 600 SF, 1 bedroom/1 bath, in a crowded complex. There are a few non-negotiables for me though... it has to be a top floor (I'm super-sensitive to sounds and can't stand someone walking above me) and the area needs to be pretty safe (it's not worth it to me to move and live in fear for a few hundred dollars). The nice to haves would be a dishwasher, porch and a washer/dryer. I'll keep my fingers crossed on those last ones :)

We're in a bit of pickle though. We have yet to build up our savings and every place we check out wants a heafty deposit. We'd love to move into something between $1000 - $1100, so we could put another couple of hundred dollars towards our debt each month. We know it will be worth it in the end to make the move, it's just that our hands are tied and unless by some miracle, we find a complex with a low deposit, it looks like it may be months before we're able to move. It's a bit of a catch-22 and somewhat frustrating, but I guess it's just the situation we've gotten ourselves into. We're focused now and want to make progress TODAY, but I guess it'll all happen in due time. As they say... patience is a virtue.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Weekly Money Check-Up

1. The most I’ve spent this last week was on my niece's college tuition... $561. My niece is in a tough financial situation, so we pay this monthly to help her out with college. It's expensive, but worth it! I do look forward to when this amount is lower or completely gone though, so we can put that much more towards our debt.

2. Today I feel
really good towards money :) I am really proud of how this last weekend went. We stayed on budget and paid for everything with cash. As each day went by, I started to feel better about only having a quarter in the bank. That means I'm doing it right! It motivated me to look over my budget again with a fine tooth comb, to make sure every dollar had a duty and that I would only be left with change after the bills were paid, if anything at all!

3. Money can’t buy happiness. One free/inexpensive thing I did last week that made me happy was went to a local, free village fair. They had vendors and craftsmen all set up with their goodies. It was fun to walk around and take it all in. I even parked the car far away so we wouldn't have to pay to park! It was a beautiful day and we got some fresh air and exercise. All in all, a good day and we didn't have to spend a penny.

4. I will consider this week a success if I don't dip into next week's money envelopes. Since this was my first real week paying for everything with cash, I hope that I budgeted accurately and won't have to dip into next week's envelopes for gas or groceries. So far, so good though!

5. My go-to recipe is BBQ Chicken Pizza! I haven't made it in a while (we're on Atkins now) but when I do, it always comes out really good :)

Monday, November 8, 2010

So long cable bill!

We did it! We canceled our cable/internet. I'm still kind of in shock. Perhaps in denial too. I hate to admit it but we watch a lot of TV. Let me say that again... A LOT! I'm a bit confused, wondering what we are going to do with all that time!

Anyway, let me get to the story... My husband texted me on Friday saying that he thought we should get rid of our cable. I almost had a stroke! Although the idea was in the back of my mind, I never thought he'd go for it. So, I immediately agreed. I've been struggling with ways to reduce our monthly budget so that we could build up our emergency savings and start paying down our debt faster. Cable and internet are nice to have but definitely not necessities in life - especially when you're in debt like us. So, he made the call and canceled our service.

We went in to our local cable office on Saturday to drop off our cable boxes and internet stuff. While in the office, they had about 12 different TV's going at the same time and I could see my husband starting to second guess himself. Believe me, I was too! We stayed the course though and handed in our dusty old equipment.

I should explain that we are not going completely without some form of home and couch entertainment :) We have decided to still keep our Netflix account active. For about $10 a month, we do get a good amount of use out of it. Now, we're planning to get a lot more! There's got to be some old shows that we missed and good movies to catch up on. Also, I do get internet access on my work phone. Although the screen is tiny, it's still access! Lastly, I was able to score a wireless internet card for my work laptop, so I could use that at home as well. Although the speed it dreadfully slow, we're hoping it'll be sufficient to get us online as needed.

Yayyyy! So, that's my good - no, GREAT - news. It's only $120ish a month, but will certainly help us out. Oh yeah, one more bit of news - my hubby also willingly canceled his wrestling show account (about $4 per month). So, make that $125 going towards savings and debt. Today is a good day!

Question : Have you ever given up cable? If so, was it difficult? What did you end up doing instead to fill up all your spare time?

Thursday, November 4, 2010

A quarter.

A quarter. That's all we have left in our checking account right now. Twenty-five pennies. That's it! I'm not sure if I should be embarrassed by that amount or proud of myself for coming close to Dave Ramsey's zero based budgeting method. As he suggests, I allocated every dollar somewhere! Some of the dollars changed locations since we went over our budget last weekend but in the end, it all worked out.

I do have a sense of insecurity with only having a quarter in the bank, but it's just for today. My husband gets paid tomorrow (we are on rotating schedules) so that brings me some peace and the odds of something happening between now and then are pretty slim. (Now that I said that watch something crazy happen!) This really makes me wish that our emergency fund was already fully funded, but we'll get there. Mama said there'd be days like this...

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Things I'll miss...

Today my husband mentioned ordering pizza. I hadn't budgeted for this type of treat and our "food budget" was already spent on groceries for the week. So, this got me thinking about the things I'll miss now that we're getting on track and out of debt!

- Being able to just pick up the phone or go online and order dinner in after a long day of work.

- Looking in my closet and thinking I could really use a _______ (fill in the blank - it could be a new black turtleneck, a new pair of jeans, a new pair of running sneakers....). I won't be able to just go out and buy whatever the item was that I felt I needed.

- Going out with co-workers for a drink or two after work. If it's not budgeted and planned for in advance, it's probably not going to happen.

- Just deciding on a Saturday morning that we want to go to Disney for the day/night and pack up and go.

I guess what I'm saying I'll miss the most is spontenaity! If I'm good about it though and able to budget in some fun money each week, then I guess I will still be able to do some of these things in moderation. One of my favorite phrases that seems to apply to this situation is : If you do what you always did, you'll get what you always got! I was too spontaneous in the past and because of it, I was careless with money. I need to be a little less spontaneous now in order to achieve our financial goals. I guess it's time to grow up and put on my big girl pants now.

Question : If you are also on a get out of debt journey, what are some of the things you miss?

Tuesday, November 2, 2010


I just updated my debt numbers in my "Status Updates" section on the right side of my blog. This is the first update since I started the blog in September. I was kinda postponing this since 1) I was super busy in October with the wedding and stuff and 2) I was embarrassed. Truth be told, we charged more than we should have for our wedding, so not only did our balances actually increase, but we also put items on another credit card. Phew, glad to be honest and get that off my chest. Ouch though! I knew things would cost a bit but was surprised by how expensive some items were and unfortunately I didn't appropriately budget enough to cover all of the incidentals that arose. Lesson learned. Enough said.

So, our new total debt balance comes to... $60,926.30. With the wedding behind us, a new budget in place and a ton of motivation, I truly believe that this will be the highest our debt will ever reach! I look forward to more positive status updates in the future :)

Monday, November 1, 2010

Weekly Money Check-Up

Happy Monday! I'm excited about a new week and a new month :) I spent most of last week working on my budget (decided to go with an Excel spreadsheet... for now anyway) and I'm pretty happy with the results. I also spent a while listening to Dave Ramsey's online broadcasts. They were interesting and eye-opening. It's sad to see how many people are in the same boat that I am - many were worse off. I tell myself that if they can dig themselves out of it, so can I!

To continue with the posting I started last week from My Pretty Pennies, here is my Weekly Money Check-Up:

1. The most I’ve spent this last week was on an unscheduled night out. My husband and I wanted to have fun for Halloween and we spent more than we planned for. This caused me to have to adjust our budget for the remainder of the month. Although it's not a HUGE deal, it was a set back for us that I don't feel good about. I know I can't turn back time and this is just the start of this long journey, so I have to cut us some slack but these types of things won't get us to the finish line any earlier.

2. Today I feel positively challenged about money. I'm finalizing our budget and although it's overwhelming at times, I'm staying positive and looking at it as a challenge... one that I plan to be successful at!

3. Money can’t buy happiness. One free/inexpensive thing I did last week that made me happy was cleaned my house. I know that sounds crazy, but when the house is a mess, it makes me feel a bit uneasy. We had our suitcases, clothes and a bunch of miscellaneous junk all over the place that needed to be put away (or at least out of my sight in the back bedroom!). I spent a few hours picking up and now when I get home, I feel a sense of peace come over me when I look at my clean living room.

4. I will consider this week a success if I stay within my budget for the rest of the week!

5. If I could grow one thing, it would be a money tree?!? :)