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was stressed...now I am not.

June 15th, 2010 at 07:06 am

YES!!! Doing the very happy dance.

This is a weird thing to read I am sure because I have not let on that I was UNcomfortable, but I was and I didn’t know it. I felt a little stress whenever I thought of our finances, I would go through phases of obsessively running numbers to gauge future savings goals, but I felt like that was a part of being a grown up- always a certain amount of burden that you live with.

I have been slightly uncomfortable…well since the Impulsive Purchase. I don’t know how to explain it really but when BB was a baseball player and earning less than $10k a year our day to day expenses were stretched. Then when he got a job as a coach 7 months ago our yearly income more than doubled.

So what did we do? We bought a fixer upper property (The Impulsive Purchase). We used up all liquid savings we had outside of our emergency fund, retirement or property equity on the closing and 3.5% downpayment. We raided savings accounts that were meant for other goals such as future cars, primary home renovations ect. And after the closing a few minor expenses came up that kept us a little more behind than we had planned. AND THEN! Everyone I know decided to get married this year. In an exotic location. 5 trips in one year.

Looking back now we had taken on more commitments than we could handle if everything came tumbling down. We had been looking at the monthly numbers of what we could afford with BB's new paycheck- not if we could afford it right that day. I subconsciously knew it and didn’t really know how to recognize it. So I just felt uncomfortable. Low level stress all the time.

But today we have made it through to the other side. One trip completed, two trips canceled, one trip already paid for, and one trip not yet on the books. So those obstacles no longer weigh on me.

And today, BB got his paycheck for the month. It has put us ahead of where I thought we would be in mid June. Today we broke the $4k mark on the emergency fund (we almost didn’t- but I added an extra $85 in today just to see the account reach that number ). BB has $700 saved for his future car (we expect him to need a new car sometime late next year). All our other mini savings funds are at a point where they will be enough if we need to access them today. And my bill paying account is now in the black where I can handle several of next months bills if my paycheck this month never comes in (for some freaky reason). The account is no longer paycheck to paycheck.

I feel good. It's only 10am and I feel like I have accomplished a lot. Bring on that air conditioning repairman. Today I am ready for him!

I want to create some charts...

July 19th, 2009 at 12:21 pm

I posted this over in the forums but I know that people who blog don't venture over to the forums a lot and vice versa.

In my ever ongoing quest to get BB on board with our finances and to increase his financial IQ, I thought that introducing some graphs and charts to our refrigerator method might help us out a bit.

I want to be able to create some charts that I can use to visually help him and I understand where our finances are compared to our goals.

We currently pay an extra $100 a month on our mortgage- but in times of 'want' BB suddenly thinks that we can keep the extra $100 "this month." I want to create a graph chart to help him see how important it is to save the extra $100.

We have some savings accounts designated to save for various goals...once again BB sometimes thinks we can raid the savings accounts if the need arose. I want to create a line graph so he can see the importance of compounding interest and disciplined savings.

And BB never thinks we have enough accessible spending money. I want to create a pie chart so he can see how much money we really do have to spend compared to what we save.

...And maybe it would be fun to create a pie chart showing how much of our money is geared towards different spending categories such as bills, food, entertainment ext.

Hey it's Sunday afternoon and I am suddenly motivated.

I don't have Microsoft excel. Is there a website where I can create these graphs for free? Does anyone else have visual graphs that they use or is a column like budget the extent of what everyone is doing?

The biggest thing that helped me gain financial control

June 7th, 2009 at 07:35 am

Just finished up the numbers regarding the spending during May and it was not too bad, but June will be better. I can feel it!

I posted the sheet of May's spending on my refrigerator right next to April's numbers, which is next to March's numbers. It helps me to visually scan across the pages to know that my grocery use has increased every month, but eating out declined. My water bill skyrocketed- I need to cut back on watering the lawn.

I started using the fridge as a 'financial update board' last year around August because it's the only spot my husband hangs around while he eats peanut butter out of (his own!) jar.

At the time it was him who was spending excessively on fast food, video games and it was putting us into a big gaping negative cash flow hole. I really resented him for spending on useless items when I was cutting back/cutting back/and cutting back more to try and save money. I felt that every hundred dollars a month I saved by forgoing this or that- he would spend it for 1 pair of shoes. Or in a gift for me. And we were never getting anywhere!

So having the list of the previous months spending posted right where he was sure to see it everyday was my way of trying to really wake him up. And it worked! It taught him the importance of tracking the spending- he writes down his purchases on the blank sheet posted next to the previous months numbers. It took a month or two of me always asking him to remember every purchase, but now he diligently writes down everything at the end of the day. I made myself a rule to NEVER make a comment about any of the purchases he recorded on the fridge. I didn't want to start a fight, or encourage him to 'omit' certain items that would start a fight. After a few months he saw for himself how much his fast food added up. He was able to not only distinguish between the smart purchases, but to see the difference in his spending and my spending.

And he sometimes makes comments about the culminated costs of certain categories- such as eating out, or home improvement.

He also got an education in how much money our household really pulls in. We have so many sources of income that change depending on the time of year, that it is hard to see the large numbers. We both got a pleasant surprise that we pull in close to $3500 a month- and we were equally disappointed to see that it was being spent so frivolously.

The fridge method opened the door for him to ask me questions. In the car one day he told me about how he told his friend he did not want to replace his older truck because he wants to be "financially free." I was thrilled that he was listening to me and taking an interest.

The fridge method works for us. It was a big BIG turning point for BB and me. Being able to see where our money is going, dealing with the accountability of putting our purchases on the sheet of paper for everyone to see, congratulating each other when one category of spending is less than the previous month, or savings has increased.

And now I live alone while BB is in TX for 3 more months. I could easily de-clutter the fridge and keep the paperwork in a drawer, but I continue the fridge method. I am proud of our spending habits, our accomplishments and don't want to jinx whatever it is about the fridge that helps us. And it's a great conversation piece for friends and family who visit. Helping to get the debt/saving money conversation going.

Anyways, I talked about my fridge method when I started it almost a year ago- but I wanted to write about it for new members. I feel very in control over the finances now. I only write about tweaking things nowadays. But less than a year ago I felt like we were working backwards financially.

The one thing I might need to do is get some cuter magnets though.

(BTW- the last 2 months WE HAVE spent more money than we were earning. You can see it plain as day in one of the pictures. We have been using the money from savings. We did just buy a house, and I did just get a job 2 weeks ago. June should be a positive cash flow month.)








Aprils excessive spending

May 5th, 2009 at 05:44 am

Not much to report here. Did my monthly spending chart for April and of course we are in the red again, living a lot off savings while I am still looking for a job.

What kills me is we WHY we went over our income.

Everything was too much. We spent in one month what you would think would take 3 or 4 months to spend.

I think the problem is neither of us had jobs. In FL BB was spending about 25 hrs a week providing pitching lessons, and I was spending about the same on eBay.

Now in GA we have TONS of free time.

I look over last months spending and see a lot of "free time."

We had 4 different groups of friends visit us in one month. Our "eating out" bill was outrageous. About $500 more than normal. So for every group of friends that came to visit, we spent about $100 on eating out. Sounds about right. After you pay for their meal, the bill is generally about $50.00. Add in a night of drinking, and a few pizzas for each visit...then BB and I also said 'goodbye' in April. He left for the season and we had numerous dinners together before he left.

Our home improvement category is high. I didnt realize we spent $350 on paint/paint tools last month. We painted the kitchen (and kitchen ceiling), deck, stairs,foundation,front/back door and front trim...yeah, maybe that adds up to $350.00. Wow. Adds up fast.

Another big expense was Gym and Gun range. $250 for me to get a 4 month membership. I only got the membership to last till BB is home from the season then we might want to join a new gym together. I'm not in love with this gym. Certainly don't love the price!

Gun range expenses have hopefully stopped. BB wants me to have a gun on me at all times now that I live alone in a city. So we took 2 trips out to the range for me to learn how to shoot my gun. I bought the gun 2 months ago- but wanted some more practice sessions so I don't kill anything I didn't intend to kill.

Actually, looking over the past month (and blogging about it), I can see where the money went, and what it accomplished. It was a lot spent. More than we had to spend. But it was extracurricular expenses that were so high, not the monthly bills. So in May I can cut back. Be more aware, and we will make it within our means.

February numbers are a bit big

March 2nd, 2009 at 05:20 am

New month- New habit forming time. No more blogging 3x in one month. Must. Blog. Regularly.

I did my monthly spending calculations for Feb and we fell off the wagon big time.

Income $3589
CA Rent $1150
Ebay $134
Baseball school $430
GA Rent prorated $1875
Store Rebates $239

Bills Total: $1679.00
HOA $500
Groceries $149
Gas $140
Electricity $0
Health Ins $0
Water $0
Internet/phone $100
Pest $650
Car Ins $76
Security alarm $64
Total $1679.00

Moving company Total: $1680.00

Home Improvement Total: $9497.00
Home depot/Lowes $1442
Home decor $1267
Wood Floors $938 (312 sq ft)
Plantation Shutters $1800 (8 windows)
Contractor labor $4050 (1 window, floors, pocket doors, spackling)



Fun Total: $850.00
dining out $217
Fast food $151
Video games & movies $57
Hair $41
Gym $30
Shipping $21
Fax $19
Gun $230
Clothes $84

We finished off the month spending $13,706.00. We incomeded $3589.00= $10,117.00 in DEBT.

Lucky for us we had the money in savings because we did not have to put down as large a down payment as we had been expecting, and our unit of the house is DONE! We took care of all the big projects for our unit (except the kitchen). So although we spent so much now, we can get back on the savings train and work on building the savings back up.

January Numbers

February 1st, 2009 at 11:26 am

Well I tallied up our January spending. BB has not gotten his paycheck for working at the baseball school the first 2 weeks of January so I did not include it in the numbers but assume it will be about $200.

Ebay, as expected was TERRIBLE this month for me. I did not list any items around the first of the month because I knew people were recovering from Christmas shopping. Then I had one week to list items then I shut it down in anticipation of moving. Then I listed a few items when the mortgage was delayed but could not list anything valuable as it has all been packed away.
So despite the problems I actually netted $688.00 but then I was hit with eBay fees from last months sales ($358) and spent $275 in shipping and that only left me with $55 profit for the month. Frown So I didn't even make the ebay challenge.

Anyways...even though all our normal sources of income were severely limited this month, and we only brought in about 50% of our normal incomes- we only would have been -$70 behind...but then we also spent $683 in house purchase related expenses and $425 on an unexpected vet bill (dog is now fine)...so we went into the red $1178.00. OUCH!

Without further ado...here are January's numbers:

Income: $1965 + BB's paycheck
Fixed Expenses: $1338
New house buying: $683
Vet expenses: $425
Fun: $520(Takeout $236/Video games & movies $34/Scrapbooking $165/Misc $85)
House maintenance: $20
Car maintenance: $157
Total Month spent: $3143
NSD: 6

December Spending Totals

December 30th, 2008 at 04:57 pm

December tracking finished. I am disappointed that the ebay sales and consequently our income took a major blow due to Christmas putting a halt on my listings around the 18th...but I was bracing for the decrease in final sales.

I am also disappointed that our eating out is up again. Actually, all our "fun" is up...I was expecting that. Some backlash from all the frugal living of the last few months. I am annoyed because I pointed out all the increased spending in our "takeout/dining", "Best buy purchases" and "vitamins" to BB and he basically brushed it off as no big deal. I see it as "we are reforming old habits that we cannot afford to maintain" and he see's it as "last month had a lot of one time events and we had to spend the money we spent."

Anyways, without further ado, our December spending:
Income $4416.00 (1,200 ebay)
Bills $997.00 (groceries waaay down)
Wants $1290.00 (way up from last months $577)
Christmas gifts $362.00 (9 people)
house buying so far $1819.00
Leaving $310.00 that went to savings

Savings was WEAK but we bought a house this month so...I'll cut myself a break.

November progress

December 6th, 2008 at 06:47 pm

I finally tallied up our November spending totals. Not bad. We went up in some places, down in others- all in all really helpful for me to gauge how we are doing financially.

Income has been steadily increasing. We made $1700 over last months income total (Thank you ebay).
Our bills increased $140 over last months bills (groceries). Our fun money spending decreased $200 over last month (though eating out increased $60).

So all in all it was a good financially responsible month.

This month however...is already off to a rough start. We are getting tired of the sacrifices and the raman noodles.

October Spending Tally

October 23rd, 2008 at 02:00 pm

Ok, stock market aside I thought I should go ahead and tally up BB and My October spending. I'll be busy with wedding preparations pretty soon and want to see how this month has panned out. Overall, I think we did well. I am pleased.

............September... October
Income.......$3354....$3977
Bills........$1551....$1166
1 time expenses$1216....$1064
Fun..........$644....$771

So we have increased our income (amazing because BB earned $280 this month-no really, he did.)and decreased everything else except fun. Looking over the 'fun' individual list~ BB ordered a Mother load of vitamins this month and that accounts for well over half of the 'fun' spending.

I am really proud of my eBay sales. I grossed over $1900 this month. Then shipping and fees took their cut..still left me with $1500.

BTW-everything was nicely lined up before it gets posted, sorry for the messy lines.