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Archive for March, 2008

Spending this Week was out of Control!

March 29th, 2008 at 05:52 pm

I had every intention not to spend my personal money without a plan. Every payday I give myself $160 in cash to last for two weeks. This allowance would be used for gas, a beauty fix (okay, I will come clean about this habit. I love to get my hair done = $40 a week habit!), and for ocassional lunches at work. I ended up spending $32 for lunch with a friend #1 who need to be cheered up (great time and wonderful conversation!).

The second unplanned event was for a friend #2 who was call up for deployment at the last minute (She is leaving in early April). Me and friend #3 treated friend #2 to dinner at the Cheesecake Factory (friend #2's favorite!). My portion of the bill was $44.84 (Lots of laughter and funny insights about our military experiences).

Okay, all of this unplanned spending meant that my beauty fix was going to be postponed until my next pay period. Until my luck or forgetfulness saved me from having a bad hair day. I found $80 in one of my money envelopes that was collected from several pay periods that I didn't utilize. I think I had days where I didn't spend it for lunch. Anyway my hair is now fierce!

Lesson learned from this story is that I need to allocate a bit of funding for the unplanned friend needing cheering up. A better method is to find a cheaper way to boost up their morale!

My friends and DH completed the National Marathon with outstanding running times of under 8 minutes per mile! Smile! I hope they don't need to go out to a restaurant to celebrate! Frown

Extra Money

March 29th, 2008 at 12:13 am

One of my goals for 2008 was to volunteer in my community. I volunteered to participate as an election judge for the Maryland Republican and Democratic Primaries in February. It was a lot of fun and I really enjoyed meeting new people in the area. I really was proud to see the excitement from young adults who were voting for the first time. Regardless of their choice of political party they all felt empowered and wanted to make a difference.

The hours were long and it was very fulfilling! Plus the upside was I earned $155 for my efforts! Here is where the money went:

$15.50 - Charity Fund
$100 - Credit Card
$39.50 - Movie Night for DH and I

Tomorrow, I am volunteering to provide (free) basic medical care at the National Marathon. Also to cheer on friends and DH who are running it.

2008 Household Budget Goals

March 24th, 2008 at 10:43 pm

We began a spending plan this month for our household to hold us more accountable. Our main goal is to stay within the spending plan with some degree of flexiblity. Here are some of our goals for 2008.

Pay $125 a month ($75 is the minimum at 0%) for $4200 credit card. (We plan to pay this by Feb 2011 or earlier. Any excess house funds left at the end of the month will be added to the monthly payment.)

$174 a month for ($2088) extra principle payment for the mortgage at the end of 2008.

$218 a month ($2616) to the emergency house fund (our goal is to maintain $5000).

$400 a month grocery budget. (We spend approximately $50 - $80 a week by shopping at the military base. I may have to readjust this due to rising food prices)

$60 a month ($720) for house maintenance fund.

$50 a month ($600) for vacation fund.

We plan to reassess this spending plan at the end of April 2008. I hope this will get us on the right track.

Clothes Shopping Demons

March 22nd, 2008 at 02:11 pm

I am going through a major withdrawal! There are so many cute clothes this season that I have an urgent need to spend. I gave my credit card to my husband to lock away. I know this sounds weak but I can't resist the call of new clothes! I went through my closet to remind myself that I have plenty of outfits that I haven't worn yet. I coordinated different looks using my existing clothes for the spring and summer season. I found new uses to my belts, scarves and costume jewelry giving my clothes an updated look. The spending urge is slowly passing but I need to stay away from magazine and TV ads. I don't dare go to a mall or boutique! I am so weak but I noted that I haven't brought any new outfits in 2 months!

Federal Taxes

March 17th, 2008 at 10:03 pm

I am getting ready to rant about about AMT!! I truly hate AMT!!!! We are squeezing our funds down to the penny! We are doing the right thing by paying our bills on time, not using credit, saving for a rainy day, putting money aside for retirement and college educations. I received a pay raise last year at new job plus receive my military annuity pay (I recently retired from the military), and my DH was promoted to a higher military rank. All factors put our income at a higher tax bracket which means we owe IRS. (By no means we are not rich living on a military income!)

I am trying to look on the positive side of life because we are blessed to have paychecks. The good thing is that we are able to pay the money. Frown We now are looking into reducing our pay deductions or pay quarterly estimated taxes for 2008. I really hate AMT!

March Family Finances

March 15th, 2008 at 01:35 pm

Our house budget for March is looking a little tight. I projected that we will have an excess of $10.84 at the end of the month. We scheduled our periodic spring heat and air maintenance which cost us $254 ($95 to blow out air vents and $159 for periodic maintenance agreement). Okay, I knew this was much cheaper than waiting for the system to break down in the middle of a muggy Washington D.C summer. DH handled the maintenance guy because I am a push-over. The guy started nickle and diming us that we needed our air conditioner unit pressure wash for an additional $69 because he had special cleaning solutions! DH told the guy no thanks and that we can pressure wash the unit on our own. Found out that the damper handle needed repair but everything else is fine. The guy will order the part and reinstall at later date for an additional $69. (Note to self: maintenance guy loves the price of $69) Just thankful that this not a $1,000 repair job!

Teaching #1 Son

March 12th, 2008 at 12:50 am

My 20 y/o son is in college full time and gainfully employed part time (great benefits including free health insurance) while living in our home. I am paying for 75% of his tution. He is responsible for his 25% tution, books, miscellaneous expenses, clothes, car insurance and a nominal share of rent. His part time job consists of 23 - 34 hours a week at $12 in hr plus monthly sales commissions. His monthly sales commissions has been averaging about $1000 - $1800 a month. He contributes to his employer's 401K of 5% and a $25 a month Roth IRA (plus an extra 10% from commission check is placed in Roth).

The problem is that he has no control of his debit card! He has overdrawn his checking account 3 times last month (a total of $60 overdraft fees). I lent him the money and he paid me during his next payday. We had a long discussion about his love of the debit card. He said it was easier to pull out the card to spend without thinking about how much was in his account. I had him set up e-mail notifications for his checking and savings accounts. I also assisted him with a spending plan and set up the envelope method for his money.

I think it's working because he actually had money for his spring break trip this week without raiding his savings account. He even left his debit card at home so he wouldn't be tempted. Maybe, I should of had this discussion with him prior to the overdraft mess. Oh, the joys of parenthood!

New to this!

March 9th, 2008 at 09:14 pm

My husband and I both noted that the American Express and debit cards was doing a lot of overtime for us in 2006. Our entertainment and clothing expenses were out of control. Our checking and saving accounts were at an all time low! (Honestly, we played like we both had amnesia! Blaming each other for the financial damage.) We finally decided to live within our income and make saving a bigger priority.

I have been reading and using all of the great advice from this finance blog for the past 18 months. (I guess you can say I am shy.) I have opened an ING emergency fund and several sub-accounts that earned over $700 in interest for 2007! We did this by setting up a spending plan that we actually followed for the entire year. This was due to my husband and I being sick and tired of living paycheck to paycheck without any financial results. I now feel that my family is more prepared if Murphy's Law occurs. We still like to have fun and dress well. Only this time we have a plan that leave more money in the bank.