Friday, February 25, 2011

I love 4 day work weeks!

TGIF! I really love 4 day work weeks! They just make the week fly by. I'm definitely one of those people who could work 4 10-hour days so I could have an extra day on the weekend.

Our next one is scheduled for May, so I've got a few months to work through before I can enjoy this feeling again.

Anyway, I hope you all had a great week and that you stay on budget over the weekend! See ya next week :)

Question : Would you work 4 longer days per week if you could have an extra day on the weekend?

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

A little bad luck in 2011...

So, this year hasn't exactly been going my way. It started with the car accident, then I lost my cell phone (not sure if I even posted about that one!) and then we got the bad news about our taxes. I'm trying to stay positive though and make the most of what life is throwing my way. The most recent mishap was that a package my niece sent me with her old cell phone was ripped open and the cell phone and charger were stolen. (I had hoped to use this as a replacement for my phone now that she's on her fiance's plan.) The person was kind enough to leave me the cell phone packaging in the box, but took the other stuff. This picture shows how the box was delivered to my LOCKED mail box.

Needless to say, I was livid! I just felt so violated. I really hate that feeling. I felt helpless. (The only other time I felt that way was when we drove across country and our car was broken into. We had several items stolen, in addition to our passports, social security cards and bank info. Ugh, that was a nightmare!) I don't want to accuse anyone but the only people who had access to the box were the employees of the post office. This package came from MA to CA. Quite a long distance to have been delivered in that condition, which only leads me to believe that the incident happened once it left my local post office, en-route to my house. Usually the PO will tag an item as damaged if they knew about it while it was in their possession. The package had nothing on it.

I called our local PO and the person said he'd check with the driver this week. I have little hope that anything will come out of that. I also emailed the PO itself to formally log a complaint. They said they'll respond within 1-3 days, so we'll see what happens. Unfortunately the package wasn't insured, so I'm not sure that they'll do anything. It's bothersome that we have no real protection against something like that happening to our mail.

Question : Have you had anything stolen from your mail before? If so, were you able to get it resolved or did you just have to deal with it?

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

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 rent. I wrote the check out early for our March rent. (This is me trying to stay ahead of things a little bit, hoping to break the paycheck-to-paycheck cycle!)

2. Today I feel positively challenged towards money. I know that things are pretty tight for us right now and I know that we have an uphill battle trying to pay off our taxes, but today I feel okay about all that. I know... or I HOPE anyway, that things can only get better for us. As we continue to pay off our debt, the balances will only get smaller and there's always the off chance that my husband will get a job that pays him better or even 40 hours per week, so things could improve.

3. Money can’t buy happiness. One free/inexpensive thing I did last week that made me happy was vegged on the couch, finished a book and watched a couple of movies. I was lucky enough to have a 3-day weekend and I have been tired lately, so I planned to relax and hang out. I FINALLY finished a book that I've been reading off and on for over a year! We also caught a few movies on tv. I put this as an inexpensive thing because since we canceled cable and just use the antenna, it feels like we're getting tv for free. Although the selection is limited, we love it!

4. I will consider this week a success if I don't spend anything else until my husband gets paid on Friday. We should have enough food to last us through then and I think our gas tank is almost full, so hopefully we can make it until then!

5. My favorite meal of the day is
breakfast! I love it! My favorite lately has been eggs benedict. It really hits the spot!

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Frozen Credit Cards?

Has anyone heard the advice that you should take the credit cards out of your wallet and instead of cutting them up, put them in the freezer and freeze them? I've heard of this trick and in theory, I think it's a great idea. I just can't get myself to do it!

I start to imagine all of the possible bad things that could happen and how I wouldn't have a credit card handy to help me get out of mess. Realistically, I know the chances of anything majorly wrong happening are pretty slim, but I just can't seem to get the courage up to do it.

As I write that down, I realize how silly it sounds. Honestly, what's the worst that could happen? I could be far from home and stranded on the side of the road, needing help. Well, I have AAA and they could tow me home. At least, I have AAA until March anyway. Then I believe my car came with some plan to help you if you're stranded. If so, that gets rid of that worry.

Anything else I may encounter is probably something minor that I could handle and I shouldn't be using my card for anyway, right?

Question : Have you frozen any of your credit cards? Did you have to unfreeze them for any reason or were you able to keep them frozen? Do you think this is a useful trick to keep the temptation to use your cards at bay?

It's all paying off!

We just got our new electricity bill... (drum roll, please) $62.84! That's way down from that month when it was over $180 :) It appears as though all of my nagging to turn the lights off when leaving a room and running around unplugging the appliances we're not using is paying off. That's great because I budgeted $100, just in case, so that's extra money we can now put towards another bill. Ahhh, I love when something good happens. Hopefully the week will continue on this path :)

Happy Tuesday Everyone!

Monday, February 14, 2011

Weekly Money Check-Up!

Here's my Weekly Money Check-Up, courtesy of My Pretty Pennies. (I also love the pictures she uses, so I've decided to "borrow" those as well.)

1. The most I’ve spent this last week was on a credit card payment. Ugh!

2. Today I feel so/so towards money. I'm having mixed feelings today. Partly challenged, partly defeated... overall so/so.

3. Money can’t buy happiness. One free/inexpensive thing I did last week that made me happy was
read a book that my co-worker lent me. It was a very quick, light read but I enjoyed it a lot!

4. I will consider this week a success if I miraculously figure out where the $7K we owe for taxes will end up coming from. I'm almost there but short about $1500. If I can figure this out, I'll be one happy lady!

5. This Valentine’s Day I am having a quiet night at home with my hubby. I have a couple of decorations from the 99 cent store that I plan to put on the table to make it festive, but that's about it :)

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Ouch... taxes!

What a week it's been so far... and it's only Wednesday! Well, the week started off pretty good. I found out that I will be getting a pretty good salary bump (11%). I was really happy when I heard that news :) I immediately started tweaking the budget spreadsheet and found that I could get our debt repayment this year up to around $26K! That's assuming we stayed on course for the remainder of the year, which I am bound and determined to do!

Then my husband got his W2 and I entered it into Turbo Tax. Yeah, this is where things went horribly wrong. The numbers in the corner started changing and turned from green to red. My worst fear. I had an idea that we may owe a little this year because earlier in the year we were looking at buying a home because the tax credits were so good. We did a silly thing and I changed my payroll with-holdings to almost nothing. We were trying to come up with the required down payment to get us into a house and figured we were going to get the tax credit later anyway. Well, that didn't happen. We decided to hold off on buying a house. In addition, I cashed out my old 401K plan and although I requested taxes to be taken out, unfortunately they didn't take enough. At the end of the day, it looks like we'll owe about $7K in taxes! Hold on a sec, I just had to swallow some vomit. I'm making myself sick over this. So, my change in salary is pretty much completely eaten up by us owing taxes. What a bummer.

I have to give my husband credit though. He mentioned to me that this may happen earlier in the year and told me I shouldn't reduce my with-holding but I did it anyway. I've never really had to pay before so I thought I'd take the chance. He's such a positive guy though and forward thinking that he's trying not to let me focus on the mistakes of the past. But ouch, it's so hard not to!

So, I'll spend the next few weeks trying to think of ways to get the taxes we owe down, but at the end of the day, we'll probably end up having to pay it. How's everyone else doing with their taxes? Misery loves company!

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Debt... a dirty little four letter word?

Is it just me, or do you feel like debt is a dirty little four letter word? I am so embarrassed by our debt that it haunts me. I fear that anyone I know will ever come across this blog and figure our that it's me writing it. Sure, I tried to be courageous and actually put my first name out there, but there are no pics of me, no other mention of where we live besides the name of a city with over a million people in it! I like to think that even Sherlock Holmes may find this case a little tough to crack :)

My own family doesn't have any idea that we are in debt. I think my mother would have a heart attack and feel as though she was a failure somehow. See, my parents didn't instill the best savings values in us kids. Sure my dad would make the occasional joke, "You act as though that money is burning a hole in your pocket!" because I'd love to go to the mall to buy something as soon as I received money for babysitting or as a birthday gift. It seemed as though I couldn't spend it fast enough! I don't blame my parents though or anyone else for that matter. We made the choices that we did to get in this situation. That's it. Done deal. It's still kinda embarrassing though.

When I try to get to the bottom of why it bothers me so much, I guess it's the sense of failure that I feel. I'm intelligent, well educated and should really know how to manage my money better, but somehow I let myself get into this mess. As proud as I am that I've decided to dig myself out of it, I am much more disappointed that I fell into it to begin with.

In my world, debt is a word that is whispered if ever mentioned at all. The big bad secret in my family was that my dad somehow got in over $40K in debt without my mother even knowing about it. He would charge things the family needed or wanted and never really explained how it got paid for and my mom blindly followed him thinking all was well, til one day she discovered he was hiding this massive about of debt from her. Understandably, she was livid! She considered leaving him, she considered kicking him out but then somehow she considered the life they shared together and got it... they shared this debt. He may have been the one swiping the card, but honestly, it was both of them that shared in what the debt resulted in... a nice home and clothes, jewelry, a pool. Should he have been dishonest? No. But she was strong enough to decide to stand by him and work it out. They ended up taking out a second mortgage and made it work. For that, I applaud them.

Just a few weeks ago, my mom thanked me for helping my niece out with her college tuition and said she wished she was in a different financial situation so that they would be able to help out more but unfortunately my dad is out of work and they are in a tough place. I told her I understood. I started to share that things weren't so easy for us either. My husband's hours had been cut and with our new car payment, high rent and tuition, things were tight. She questioned whether I had any savings left (from my previous divorce settlement) and I said that I didn't. I was out of work for a year and that savings was exhausted. She was taken aback by that and the tone of the call changed. I decided I had shared enough for that day and I put the lid back on sharing our debt situation. One step at a time... if at all.

Question :
Do you feel as though debt is a dirty little four letter word? Have you shared your situation with your family? How is debt thought of / discussed in your circle?

My Weekly Money Check-Up!

Hi all! It's been a busy few days with the hubby's birthday and all. I'm finally able to get back on here. I also lost my cell phone this weekend, so that was a bummer. Luckily, I still have my work phone that I can use, but I try to keep those things separate so it looks like I'll end up needing a replacement phone. I may not need to spend any money on it though because when my parents were out here last year they had a couple of old phones they left behind when I put them on our family plan. I'm going to see what condition they are in and try to get one of those activated on my plan (if possible) so I won't have to shell out for a new one!

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

1. The most I’ve spent this last week was on tuition for my niece. She updated me today that she's going to apply to be an RA (Resident Advisor) at school. I did that job while going to school and it really helps pay for college. I hope that it works out for her so that 1) this bill gets lowered or goes away completely and 2) she gets an opportunity to get more involved on campus. Thus far she hasn't taken a very active role and I think this may help her come out of her shell a bit.

2. Today I feel nervous towards money. I really look forward to the day when I don't feel much of anything towards money. It used to be that way for me before I got into debt, I just paid the bills and didn't have to work or think much about money. Now that my husband makes less and we've run up the credit cards so high, I find myself constantly thinking or worrying about money. Ugh. It's draining.

3. Money can’t buy happiness. One free/inexpensive thing I did last week that made me happy was
sat on our porch with my husband and enjoyed the sunset. Although we live in Southern California, it had been chilly until recently and I had been putting off cleaning our porch up a bit so we could enjoy sitting outside together. I finally did it this past week and I'm happy I did. We got to sit out at our table and enjoy the sunset while a few hot air balloons went by in the distance. It was great!

4. I will consider this week a success if I get an idea of what's going to happen with my merit increase / salary adjustment. I'm so looking forward to finding this out. I've done a salary analysis and I'm pretty low in the range. I've shared this information with management and I'm hoping that they will agree. Although the increase won't be effective for another month or so, I'd love to get an idea this week if it's even going to happen...

5. Right now I am reading Too Fat to Fish, by Artie Lange. I've been reading this book for wayyyy too long. I just need to finish it so I can move onto something I enjoy more.

Have a great week!