Sunday, March 30, 2008
Saturday, March 29, 2008
Friday, March 28, 2008
Wednesday, March 26, 2008
Step #2: Know what and who you owe.
Step #3: Read Self Help Personal Finance Books.
Step #4 – Snowflake
Step #5: Comparison Shop for Everything
Step #6 - When you are not happy with the situation seek out alternatives and tell others about your plight. You never know where help might come from. And it might be free.
Step #7: Menu Plan for a Month at a Time
Step #8 - Make sure that you consider all the options before you even think about letting your money leave your hands. Clearance does not always mean cheaper
Step #9 - Be resourceful.
Step #10 - Tell companies you like their products and/or services to get coupons or free stuff.
Tuesday, March 25, 2008
1. Notebooks, pencil, & paper - this is the method I use. Sure I would love to have those fancy pie charts and it would be nice to click on a link and know exactly what your net worth is but I am a busy person and I hate doing a budget so 30 minutes once a month is about all I would like to spend on this since I will never get that 30 minutes back and I would much rather being doing something else with my time. I do it because it is necessary, just like check ups at the doctor. Your notebook budget does not need to be fancy. Here is mine:
Notice the Target clearance sticker in the corner. I revise the budget once every month for the month coming up. So for April's budget I set aside some time to write out the bills on the corresponding paydays. Each penny is accounted for. We pay some bills with the first check and some bills with the last check since we are paid on the 1st and the 15th.
So it may look like this:
59.75 life insurance
In this notebook I also have my Financial Goals for 2008. If you look closely you will see that I have highlighted three of them. This means that I have succeeded in obtaining them and crossed them off of my list. Granted there are a bunch more goals to meet but the very idea of crossing something off a list gives you a sense of forward momentum - that you are accomplishing something or moving, albeit slowly, towards what you said you would do. I am a chronic list maker and crosser-off- er.
I keep this notebook on my desk so I can refer to it often and be able to access it pretty easily to find out financial information. Again some people may spend a lot of time using Quicken and Microsoft money or other programs. I would rather spend my time on something besides seeing how much money I don't have. But don't get me wrong - this is a very necessary and critical step to your being financially independent one day. Do not skip it. Just don't spend all day on it. Spend time with your kids or your parakeet or doing something to contribute to your love of life instead.
2. Online services - Pear Budget , Mint and others - I have heard good things about these sorts of online services. The only thing is that it takes a lot of time to plug in your information and the very idea of someone else having that much financial information on me would make me nervous.
However you decide to handle a budget does not matter, just make sure you do it.
Monday, March 24, 2008
Saturday, March 22, 2008
Friday, March 21, 2008
Each time we, they, whomever washes their hands they pump a bunch of soap out of the dispenser. And in a couple of weeks you have to replace it. Not at our house! Because I get the soaps so inexpensive (.19-25 cents each) I don't buy the big refill jugs. When a dispenser is getting low instead of throwing it out and getting a brand new one we fill it again about a third full with soap from another dispenser, fill it the rest of the way with water and voila! a full soap dispenser at minimal cost. You do not need fully concentrated soap to get your hands clean. A minimal amount of soap, water and old fashioned friction will get your hands clean. Train your kids to only push down the dispenser tab half way, thus getting only half a squirt rather than a full blown squirt to stretch it even further. Again, you are not going to suffer, other than your pocketbook, by not having a fully concentrated, full blown soap squirts each time you wash your hands.
But that is what the soap companies would like you to believe.
Minimize soap use to keep more of your hard earned moneyin your pocket.
Thursday, March 20, 2008
We all know that coupons can save you money. If you apply a couple of different strategies and methods you can get out of a store by spending mere pennies. We all know people who do this but most cannot really figure out how it is done.
I'm going to tell you how it is done step by step.
Start by getting organized:
#1. Getting a big binder. 2" or 3" binder is perfect for this.
#2. Get a pack of baseball card holders. These are clear plastic sleeve like things that fits right into your binder.
canvas bag I thought I needed but decided I didn't - $3.99
Walgreen's EasySaver rebate - $14.97
Now who knew, but apparently my mother bought me a subscription to the lottery and I won $2.00 so she hands me a check from the lottery place for $2.00. Who knew you could win the lottery when you don't even play the lottery?!? - $2.00
Total Snowflake Money - $22.75
All going into the orthodontist envelope in my desk to be paid the next time I am in "town" and in that neck of the woods.
Ortho balance: $1642.25
Again I cannot say how important it is for you to collect small amounts of money and put them towards your debts. There were so many times in the past that I got an unexpected $10 and blew it and never could tell you where it went. I decided that I did not need that money when I did not know it was coming to me so I do not need it now. Almost like it doesn't exist. I put it straight to debt. Once I am finished with the orthodontist bill I will then concentrate on my student loans from snowflaking. Remember this money is in addition to your regular payments. My regular payment to the orthodontist is $135.00/month. Money I make snowflaking is extra and pays down the balance much faster.
Wednesday, March 19, 2008
Call you power company and tell them you would like to get set up on their budget billing. In our are what this means is that instead of getting surprised every month when you get your power bill you have a set amount each month that you pay based on your last six months worth of use. So whatever the average is for that six months, that becomes your flat rate that you pay.
I did this recently and it was awesome! We had bills from $97.00 in the months where we did not use heat or air conditioning to $278.00 in the dead of winter for a 2800 square foot house. Our monthly fixed payment is $135.00. What?? Yes, $135.00 per month. Every month. Now this is not a license to freak out and use all the electricity that you want to because you have the same monthly payment each month. They regulate it by doing an audit on your power usage every six months and reconfigure your payment to that. So as long as you don't go crazy and use relatively the same amount that you have been using then your payment should stay around the same amount. Ideally you will be practicing all kinds of power saving strategies so your bill would actually turn out to be less when you came up for audit.
The second blessing in this is that you now can budget exactly what your power bill will be each month - no more surprises.
Tuesday, March 18, 2008
Yesterday's dinner was baked chicken. Husband procured a natural free range 7 lb chicken from Trader Joe's for $13.00. You could get this figure down to really cheap if you did not care if it is natural or free range. For the first night we had baked chicken, mashed potatoes ($1.50) & gravy (free) and canned organic green beans (2 at a $1.00 each) ($2.00). The next morning I took the chicken carcass, still half full of meat, and put it into the crock pot and let it boil all day. Once the meat was falling off the bones I cleaned the carcass, put all the chicken back into the broth and simmered the rest of the day. Half and hour before dinner was to be served I added frozen, boxed all natural Anne's Dumplings ($2.50). Half hour later dinner was served. There was some left over for my husband to take for lunch the next day and for my children to eat for lunch.
This is a prime example of being able stretch one meal into three meals thus reducing your grocery bill. Again, that is the secret to being able to feed 6 under $200 - being resourceful.
Here's the breakdown:
$16.50 - feeds six people three times = $5.50/meal - you could get this figure down further if you bought a less expensive chicken.
Debt and/or Savings Strategy Step #9 - Be resourceful.
Savings #1 - Free ride/no gas. Town is 30 minutes up the road.
Monday, March 17, 2008
Carnivals are wonderful because the authors consolidate a bunch of related links all in one place. It is a huge time saver since you can look through many different articles in a short amount of time.
Please visit this week's carnival! Enjoy!
And if you are new to my new-ish site thanks for coming please look around!
Sunday, March 16, 2008
Saturday, March 15, 2008
Thursday, March 13, 2008
Debt and/or Savings Strategy Step #5: Comparison Shop for Everything
$332.00 Last payment from pool we sold
3.00 Change jar
The book is broken into five lessons, thus the title. And all of the lessons are not anything new that we did not know before. But that's okay. Doesn't matter if I know it or have heard in the past the content because once I read it again it gets me motivated.
If we're honest, most of the things in these books really are rudimentary concepts that are common sense and easy to apply. However, because people like me with a household to manage, kids to home school, and a myriad of other things, I need a handbook where the information is compiled in one spot. If others want to do the work by all means let them. Face it - we're busy people and you can only pack so much into your brain. Having the information in other places helps.
So part of your overall strategy to live on less and pay down debt should include personal finance self help books. Why? Because the information is in one place. Because these people spend more time researching the very topics you need to know about, might even be experts in the subject, so you want good, clear consice information. Because you want to stay motivated. After I read a good personal finance book and am even more motivated about saving and immediately want to do some of the techniques that I have learned or "forgot" about. It keeps all of the information in front of me so that I can make sure that I am doing all that I possibly can to be an active participant in debt reduction and living lightly on the planet.
And somehow in the grand scheme of things, peanut butter cups do that too.
Debt and/or Savings Strategy Step #3: Read Self Help Personal Finance Books.
Wednesday, March 12, 2008
We do however, have student loan debts to the tune of 33,000. Well, not "we" - me - I do, because I decided I was going back to graduate school. How I managed that in a year and a half is mind boggling. We do have other debts - the orthodontist bill - down to $1700.00 right now from $3000.00 (all from snowflaking which I will share with you later) - and we have three other children that will be needing braces all within the next few years. We do have a mortgage but I will not consider this a part of my debt reduction until everything is paid off. Since I am currently in school I do not have to pay the student loans as I am in the grace period currently, but having that hanging over me makes me lose sleep at night. Just the very thought of having a monthly payment equivalent to a car payment or some mortgages makes me shudder. I need to pay it down now while I am in school.
We do have savings accounts, 2 Roth IRAs, Husband's 401K, Money market - all vehicles for saving money that we put into place recently to make sure that we were saving money while we embark on this. Since I have the looming braces freak show upon me in three consecutive years for three kids in a row I want to budget and pay for those out of pocket rather than financing like I had to do this time.
You could say that we might be in better financial shape than some - I mean, we have no car payments, we have no credit card debt, we have savings - that isn't bad. But we weren't always in that position.
And we still have a long way to go. Being debt free is being debt free.
Debt and/or Savings Strategy Step #2: Know what and who you owe.
Tuesday, March 11, 2008
Onward....so this is how we do it....