Happy Valentine’s Week! Valentine’s Day is one of my favorite holidays because I love flowers and beautiful pink and red decorations during the otherwise drab winter.
We are having a quiet weekend because DD is down with a head cold. Sometimes it’s nice to just stay around home and appreciate what we have here instead of going in search of more.
DH received an email about a class action lawsuit against Yahoo for a data breach. You may be eligible if you had a Yahoo account between 2012 – 2016. We already have credit monitoring services in place (from another data breach, naturally), so we have applied to receive a cash payout (up to 100.00). You may have received an email, but if not read more here. Props to DH, who is a master at both rebates and responding to class action lawsuits.
I used my time at home this weekend to make cut-out heart cookies to give as Valentine’s gifts. I was able to use some of the butter given to me by the person I am house-sitting for.
Went grocery shopping with DH on Saturday and we used up a Jimmy John’s gift card to bring home a quick lunch. I don’t like to lose track of gift cards, but this one I have had for a while.
We came in under budget last week, and were able to put that money back into our savings, vacation, and home repair budget lines.
I am watching Playing With Fire on Amazon Prime (using my free video credits from selecting delayed delivery on packages). I’m enjoying this documentary about the Financial Independence-Retire Early movement and one family’s attempt to get on the path to FIRE. Have you seen it? Thoughts?
It’s very snowy here tonight, so we will raid the freezer for a simple meal. Tonight I will firm up a meal plan for the week ahead and make a grocery list. This gets my week off to a good start even if we have to make changes along the way.
The days are ever so slightly lighter in the evening and my friend’s chickens have picked up their egg production — I’m feeling optimistic for spring even if it might be a bit premature!
- DH and I just made it under the data limit for our phones last week! That’s $ 20.00 easy money. I think I had been off wifi at home for a little while and that does not mix well with Instagram!
- The last two times I have bought grass fed ground beef on sale at a particular market they have not rung it up at the sale price. I’m on to them! I check the price per pound as soon as they pass me the package across the meat counter.
- I’m taking advantage of the sales on “party foods” for the Super Bowl and cherry-picking some of the loss leaders at local stores. Frozen pizza isn’t something we eat often, but at 1.99, I’ll take one and be grateful we have it if there is a snow storm or a late meeting at work.
- My little joy for the week was getting a bar of Dr. Bronner’s Rose soap for $2.90. I love having a good bar of soap for my bathtub, and it smells so pretty!
I sold a Keurig machine that we were no longer using on a local mom resale group. $20.00. We have gone back to old fashioned Mr. Coffee type of coffee machine. I am happy to reclaim the counter space.
When we rolled my Roth IRA over to Vanguard from Ameritrade, DH was careful to maintain our asset allocation so that we wouldn’t fall too heavy into stocks (we already have plenty of stock exposure). With the Coronavirus affecting China so heavily, this seems like a good move for the short term any way.
In the “ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” department…..
Got the car in for an oil change/tire rotation.
Cleaned the washing machine with a cleaning tablet.
DH and I will usually go over out budget every Saturday night and see where we ended up for the past week and allocate any unspent money to savings, home repair or vacation. Those are our budget categories which are always hungry for MORE!
Hope your week was good!
How was your week? We prepared for a big snow event this weekend which kind of fizzled out, but we are enjoying being home, watching football playoffs, and eating the groceries we have instead of going out in search of greener pastures.
Saving this Week
I had success this week using my Kroger store’s online ordering/curbside pickup. Ordering online forces me to be a little more disciplined and think through my meal plan instead of wandering off to the store after work every day. I can also take advantage of their online coupons which are so much easier to use than the old days of clipping coupons. This week I saved 31% on my order there, purchasing things we use regularly. They also gave me a bouquet of flowers which I have been enjoying all weekend.
Last week I mentioned that our health insurance allows each member two free Teledoc visits per year. I tried it! I used the dermatologist for a simple need and I had a response and prescription for a cream within an hour of submitting my request and photos. No taking off of work, waiting for an appointment, etc.
DH and I decided to close one of my Roth IRAs which was invested in a variety of funds and individual stocks and consolidate it with Vanguard in a Lifecycle fund. Simplify.
This week looks to be a bit busier than last week, so during the evening football game I will get my planner out and make sure I have a solid meal plan for the week.
Earning this Week
I took an extra recess duty shift this week. I always feel like I’m really sacrificing when I do that! Hey, I got some free Vitamin D from the winter sun and thankfully no playground concussions or other issues occurred on my watch!
Happy New Year! We slid into the month of December with a lot of spending and family fun — so much so that we had trouble getting caught up in our budget(!!), and are limping to the end of December with both DH and I having the latest virus that is going around. Forced frugality.
We have been seeking some balance from the excesses of December by:
- Making meals like chili that use up pantry/freezer items
- Using some of the teacher appreciation restaurant gift cards I got last spring
- Picking up clearance Christmas items that we know we will need next year (cards, 1 roll of wrapping paper, and labels)
- Watching for holiday clearance grocery items that I know we will use, like canned pumpkin.
We did manage to get our budget up to date after several weeks of too many trips to Trader Joe’s as well as hosting various parties. Whether you are a new or a seasoned budgeter, this is a great time to take a look at what you spent so you can plan for it next year. For example, DH takes his staff out for lunch in December, so we always set aside money for that.
I naturally find myself looking ahead 3-6 months for any major expenses on the horizon so we can plan. This week I realized we have a new expense ahead… drivers education for our daughter. It costs around 400.00 so we will allocate money for that. If you’ve been reading this (intermittent) blog for a while, you might be surprised we are already facing driver’s education!
How are you feeling about your finances after December?
We had a very relaxed Easter with a walk to church (good exercise plus it avoids the jam packed parking lot!), simple meals, and plenty of time outside raking leaves and debris out of the garden.
The Easter Bunny had some unexpected success at CVS this week. I bought some nice items for my daughter’s baskets with a 32% off coupon, a 40% off L’Oréal Cosmetics, and a $3.00 off 10.00 on Cosmetics. I haven’t paid much attention to CVS but when I know I will buy a number of things I go check out the CVS digital coupons.
I tried to watch the impulse purchases this week because my last check was only 40.00 from not working over spring break!
We started costing out a trip to Toronto this summer and weighing costs for driving vs. flying. We try to always stay with the same hotel company when we travel to get rewards points, which we have managed to accrue and redeem. IHG has been good for us.
This week I really enjoyed reading this memoir from Elizabeth of the frugalwoods blog. It’s not really a step by step instruction book, more a glimpse of the decisions one couple made to realize their dream of living in rural Vermont. I could relate to the intensity they brought to the financial planning process. If you have visited their blog, you may also enjoy this book. Check it out from the library!
This week I earned 40.00 through my health insurance company for participation in their online coaching for asthma. I checked in every few days and logged information about exercise, diet, and medication compliance. I also got a pneumonia shot through the program. Many health insurance companies have online programs for wellness, weight loss, smoking cessation, diabetes management etc. These funds can be used towards medical copays and other medical expenses. Every year I maximize whatever they offer me. The only one I haven’t completed is stress reduction !!!
How was your week?
This morning I said, “Hey it’s our debt-free anniversary!” It’s a good thing I have the blog because that’s how I keep track of how many years it has been. Eight! When we paid off our house DD was in kindergarten and now high school is on the horizon.
She said, “How did you guys DO that?”
Short answer… when we were first married and had less income we paid off all of our credit cards, then our car. We hated interest! After that, we only bought what we could pay in full for (except the house). Then we went after the mortgage.
I shared that most people use credit/debt to pay for trips, clothes, cars.
I never envisioned how quickly our decision to be debt free would become a touchstone for talking about college costs. Many people would say, “Eighth grade is WAY too early to think about college!” I disagree! Three years from now she will be narrowing down choices for college, which is a $100,000 + financial decision. One day you’re deciding how much babysitting money to put on your Starbucks card and the next day you’re taking out a $7,000 unsubsidized loan (interest accrues right away). The steps she takes in high school can directly correlate into money and more choices for college, if she wants them. We have found that when you stop borrowing money you need to think 2-3 years out for major expenses.
If you’re at the beginning of a journey to pay off credit cards or school loans, keep going! It’s a huge undertaking in our culture of readily available credit, but if you are successful you will give yourself and your children an amazing head start at building wealth and freedom.
This morning I was reading old blog posts to get menu plan ideas for the coming week. One theme that really stood out for me was how many years we have saved for big expenses, and how we actually achieved them over time. New siding, basement bathroom, trip to England and Ireland. Done without taking on debt, but with a good amount of budget focus week after week.
We are still at it too!
This spring we had an unexpected opportunity to go to Europe, and when we came back, we just wanted to travel MORE! It lit a fire under the budget process we have used for years and made us want to be a bit more mindful to come in under budget whenever we can so we have more more to put towards future travel.
So this Sunday we are home, waiting for it to snow (Spring, where are you?!), and eating from the pantry. I’ll work up a meal plan for the coming week and we will see if we can save some money this coming week.
Travel wish list: Scotland, Denmark, Germany via river cruise.
It feels good to breathe some new motivation into the budgeting we have been doing for 25 years.
What is your current financial focus?
Memorial Day Weekend 2007 was our first exposure to Dave Ramsey. CNBC was running his “Dave Ramsey Roadshow” — most likely to fill time during a holiday weekend. I don’t recall how I landed on the channel, but I know my husband was working on the computer at the dining room table and able to hear what I was watching.
We had been doing many good things with our money – investing, saving for our 2 year old’s college tuition, paying bills on time. We were also spending a ton of money — on daycare ($10,000/year), on loan interest, and on take-out meals from California Pizza Kitchen because I was working full-time. We were starting to hate the day care lifestyle.
Seeing the show (YouTube version above) gave us the VISION for what we could be doing with our money. To read about the full plan of action we took, go here.
Ten years have passed since that life-changing Memorial Day. Some of the foundational elements of our current family life, such as having me home when our daughter is not in school, would not be possible if we hadn’t seen this program and acted on it. If you could use a change in lifestyle and want more freedom, it would be amazing if I could pass this gift on to you.
Stopping to smell the roses….
We were relaxing on the couch last night and I remembered that this Thursday is our debt-free anniversary. My husband and I had to think back to how many years have elapsed since we paid off our house. Six! Every year I have to count back to figure it out. DD was in kindergarten when we sent that last check off to Wells Fargo, and now she is in middle school.
It takes hard work to pay off your house and credit cards, but it is just as big of a challenge to stay out of debt afterwards because there is no “end” goal to count down to. It’s just — stay out of debt and keep staying out of debt.
Over the past 6 years we managed to re-side our house, buy a new car, and added a bathroom to the basement without going into debt. To accomplish these required a lot of saving and budget meetings week in and week out. It’s possible to pay cash for these expenses though when you aren’t making payments. Our next major expense is hopefully a trip to the UK in 2017. To accomplish this… saving, budget meetings every Saturday night, and using my part-time employment to put towards the vacation budget line.
If you are currently in the debt payoff process, keep at it with that gazelle-like intensity. Efforts like clipping coupons and having no spend days are fine, but none of these things can rival the amount of money you save when you aren’t paying interest on car, home, college and credit cards.
Thursday we will probably celebrate by getting take-out dinner of some sort, and perhaps a family activity this weekend like going for ice cream. . . or Chik Fil A 🙂
Many things about being an adult come as a rude awakening:
- I thought I would never go to the dentist when I grew up. Now I go twice a year and make my kid go too!
- I thought I would grow up and be able to eat Cheetos whenever I wanted, every day if possible! My grown-up self fears the effects of that kind of eating.
- If I had known our income today I would have thought it would be enough to live like the Drummonds in “Diff’rent Strokes”. Reality is decidedly non-Park Avenue.
One other “unfair” part of being a grown-up is that while we are fortunate to be able to afford many things, we have to save our own money for them! Seriously disappointing! Even being debt-free has not made a money tree grow in our backyard. If we say we want something – be it Starbucks, or taking a special vacation – we have to come clean with ourselves and allocate money towards what we value.
That “coming clean” part of budgeting can be a little mentally painful, because my human nature wants all the pleasure with no pain. This isn’t a pity party, but I want to capture the thoughts that go through my mind every week on Saturday when we update our weekly budget. We confront our financial choices twice in our house – once when we enter the purchase into Quicken, and the next time when we close out our budget at the end of the week and see what we spent. This “reality check” is what keeps our inner child from running away with our bank account. Pout.
If you find expenses like lattes, drinks after work, eating out, or new clothes are busting your budget – or that you can’t commit to a budget – could it be that the kid part of your personality isn’t on board with the reality of adulthood – a reality where the consequences are all ours to enjoy?