Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Teaching Kids about money, budgeting, paying bills....


Teaching kids about healthy financial habits can be daunting when you are still struggling with healthy habits yourself. It doesn't have to be daunting though, discussing some of those hard issues in terms that they can understand can be healthy. It's sort of like saying "look see mom/dad made some mistakes, we all do, and we are working on fixing them" and then explaining how people fix their financial mistakes.


All of that being said I have an older daughter she is *almost* a teenager *yikes*, at 12 she gets a lot more than she did at say 3. She sees and hears me talking about budget and bills often. A few weeks ago she asked me about how a budget works and "how do you pay your bills?" I was surprised by this. She has always been a fairly observant child. Her father and I are not together, he is no better with money than I used to be he just had lots more of it than I did to spend. Our daughter has never really seen a good example of saving, spending, and paying bills... until now.

Mint.com has a really great blog/article about teaching kids budgets, I encourage you all to read it. In fact Mint.com is a really great (and free even!) website to check out and familiarize yourselves with. I think for my child though going more in depth is what she is asking for.

With my daughter's needs/wants to learn personal finance and budgeting this week we are starting something new. I will give her an allowance for time she has worked over and above family chores that everyone does, she will work with me to create a budget on saving to spend on a goal, savings for college, and spending money. I will take her to the bank and help her learn to fill out deposit slips (and when the time comes withdraw slips) and how to balance her savings accounts and keep track of what money is for what things. I am also going to show her my pay, where things go to, where they come out and how much is left at the end of the month/day/week... Not all kids can handle that I don't think nor should they, my child seems to have a need/want for that to understand. This need/want stems a bit from how she learns anything new and her abilities to really take the information in.

Most of all, I want my child to have a better understanding of personal finance than I did so when she makes mistakes she knows how to correct them. I was never taught anything about budgeting, making money, paying bills, writing checks, or balancing a check book. Nothing at all, I was thrown into it and failed miserably, I'm working at teaching myself now but I'd like for my daughter to know better. Whether she makes the right choices by having the right knowledge is totally up to her. I can instill the right things and educate her with the knowledge and then it is in her hands on how she applies all of those things.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Its a bust...


The garage sale had one successful day, but not it is a bust. We had hoped the weather man would be wrong but he was not and it is very stormy here today.


I made about $40, my boyfriends sister made about $130... the other two at the sale didn't do as good, either way one day of sales and over $200 worth of stuff was sold between 4 people that isn't bad.


Since the sale was at my boyfriends sister's home and she doesn't want to hold the sale tomorrow as planned this is what I have made. She may be willing to do another sale on another weekend, I hope so because I have a bed that I think will sell for a decent price otherwise everything is going to goodwill.


I'm a little disappointed, but I have taken today for some much needed R & R and that has been nice. I love the rain and so I can try and be happy with that. I can't say though that I wish I had a house to hold a sale at instead of depending on others to do this.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Tomorrow is the day


Tomorrow is the day that we start our garage sale. I don't have much, mostly books, stuffed toys, a few knick knacks, and a few various other things, and then a twin sized bed. I might have an entertainment center too.

Tonight everything gets priced, books 75 cents or 2/$1, movies $1 or $2 (gotta check with the other girl I'm doing this with to see what she has hers priced as), stuffed toys 25 cents for small ones up to $2 depending on their size etc...

Anyway I hope I do this right, sale starts tomorrow, ends on Sunday. I have to work on Sunday but my boyfriends sister will sell, sell, sell for all of us so it is ok.

Really, I'll be happy to get rid of some things and have some money. I hope to earn enough to buy our new comforter set.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

More shout outs.

The other day I did a post that was supposed to be about Making Extra Cash it really turned into a shout out. I wanted to continue to do the shout outs so here they are.

Another single woman (and single mom too boot) Jen at Lifestyle of a Divorced Single Mom, she not only knows how to juggle one income but doing it with more than one kid. She knows the unexpectedness that can come up and the expected that does but you just don't have it to plan for. Not only that but Jen is one of the main reasons I realized I could really do this budgeting thing, she gave me a great spreadsheet that really is detailed and works. She has been doing great at her goal setting and holding herself accountable each month, again she inspired me so look for something new from me soon.

There is Brian (oh, yes a man who happens to be married even so far he has broken the mold on my shout outs), he is the author of Over 40 Overweight and In Debt, I think he's got a correlation there indeed. In fact, I haven't read it yet but Frugal Dad (another great PF blogger) just posted an article on being overweight and in debt. Brian has just gotten back to blogging again and I hope he stays around I always enjoyed that he is just real in his posts he doesn't putz around and make excuses we are both in the same boat here overweight and in debt, maybe with some blogger collaboration we can both attain our goals together. I'm so excited to read Frugal Dad's article today and hopefully Brian will see it too.

One of the more successful single moms in the PF blogosphere is Single Ma at Fabulous Financials. She really is an inspiration about being all you can be and striving for the best. While I can tell we don't have the same career interests we do have similar mind frames. When I see that she has gotten so far and worked hard but I can go back and read that she too made mistakes along the way I'm inspired. Like Jen at Lifestyle of a Divorced Single Mom, Single Ma is a great goal setter and a true inspiration. Single Ma is a the point I could be at if I had worked things differently, while I was in a feel sorry for myself phase about being a single, unwed, teen aged mom she was out working her goals for the future and it shows. In fact, her blog is ear marked and her about me section is shared with any new teen mom I come across.

There are so many that deserve a shout out but many of you probably already know about Trent at The Simple Dollar, Weakonomics, The New Frugal Mom, not to be confused with The Frugal Girl, Spilling Buckets, Smarty Pig, My Money Shrugged and many more you can see on my blog roll.

If you know of others not on my blog roll or in my shout outs I'd love to read them, many of the people I read daily are found through others blog rolls so I encourage all of you to update yours frequently. I plan on making it a periodic thing I do.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Grocery Shopping



I do my grocery shopping in what I call three tiers. I shop typically at 3-4 different stores. Save-A-Lot, Aldi, Kroger and Meijer.

I first shop for the sale meats at the beginning of the month, I stop at Kroger and check for great deals on their 'Managers Specials' which is meat that needs to be sold that day or the next. Sometimes there is nothing but often times I find really good deals. One time I got two New York Strip steaks for $1.75, often times I find a flat flank type steak that is large enough to feed two of us for a normal dinner of steak and something with it or three of us for steak fajitas and walk out paying less than $4 for the steak. Next I go to Save-A-Lot and find the good deals on meats there. I stock my freezer usually for a few weeks to a month.

Next, I come home and I separate and put things away.

Within a week or so I check out the sales ads for Kroger and Meijer. I plan out meals based on the meat I have in the freezer and what is on sale and where. Usually one or the other store has better deals it varies. I plan out my shopping trip to one or the other store, I omit anything that I can get at Aldi's for cheaper based on the sales there.

By the third week we are running out of things that we get at Aldi's and it is time for the meals for items I need there. I again check Meijer and Kroger's sales ads just in case and decide Aldi's, Meijer, or Kroger and shop accordingly.

With this plan I end up spending somewhere between $40-$70/week not bad for someone that hasn't used coupons and is feeding 3 people breakfast, lunch, and dinner.

My next goal is to incorporate coupons. I hope to have a stock of staples we use most often by getting them as cheap as possible through sales AND coupons. With any luck I can take it a step further but for now to learn how to do this right I'll do it with our staples.

Since our local farmers markets are open finally I shop there too and get produce really cheap, there is a great one on my way home from work so it takes barely anytime to stop in every week or two.

Recently, I stuck to a fairly strict budget sort of like an envelope system. I didn't trust myself totally with an envelope system so I purchased a prepaid credit card and loaded my grocery money on there. If I had a true emergency that I had to redo my grocery budget I could but I kept it strictly for food, not even other things such as toiletries. It worked out really well and I think I'm ready to go to an envelope system now it really helped keep me in control knowing for a fact there was only so much there before it was gone. I may even make and document a grocery shopping diary.... who knows

I have to admit I'm not the best at following a list but I have been trying, making lists and remembering them is also an issue I'm working on.

Photo by: Amy.Arch

Making extra cash


Recently, I posted about earning some extra money and starting a side business. I was really excited, and I'm still in the beginning stages of starting what Samantha Gregory @ Rich Single Momma calls a Side Hustle (I just love that name for earning extra cash).

Samantha isn't the only blogger I've been reading who posts about earning extra income Dawn at Fighting Foreclosure has some really great ideas too. In fact I'm having a garage sale this weekend, she just had one too. I was going to sell books online with what I read from Dawn's blog but decided against it, I don't have the space to store them so off they go into the garage sale. I will be selling my textbooks online though and it will be helpful to re-read Dawn's on-line bookstore posts.

I really enjoy reading blogs from other single women making it by budgeting and being financially healthy, by far because I have been a single woman making it on my own I relate far more to them. Others out there have some great advice but I have to take it in and apply it to my situation with a little more attention than that of advice or words I've read from another single blogger.

For instance, Immer at Mein Taglich Brots who is starting her journey down the Bankruptcy road, she is a little ahead of me plus its great to know I'm not alone. I'm hoping this garage sale will in part help pay for my attorney to file. Then there is Betty at Bouncing Back from Bankruptcy who has completed the Bankruptcy process and it is refreshing to read her posts to see what life is like for someone afterwards. Oddly, it just occurred to me like both of the other bloggers they are single women too. I think I may come up with a blog roll for people in the PF blogosphere that are single. I find I get the best/most applicable PF information right in those types of blogs.

I read each blog I read though because I enjoy them. This post wasn't meant to be a big shout out but it has turned into one. Perhaps I should change the name, but I think I will leave it alone for now... maybe I'll do a part two later on with more of my thoughts... yes, yes I will.

Disclaimer... if you did not make it in this blog post it isn't because I don't love reading your blog its just that its still early when I started this and the reason I'll be doing a part 2... not everyone will make it but eventually I'll likely have posted your blog at least once on mine because you all have made me think and ponder and evaluate... soon enough you'll write a post and I'll say oh yeah, how cool is that? And I'll want to shout it out to everyone who reads my blog. That's just who I am. Holy, run on sentence.... I'd fix it but if you know me personally you know I probably would have just spoken all that in one big ole run on sentence ha.


More to come on my earning extra cash and thoughts on it....


Sunday, August 2, 2009

I got my first bite


I think there was a time where I mentioned doing a side business of my own. Well I got my first real bite from a co-worker. YAY!!


In the past I have done some work writing resumes and cover letters for friends. This time it was a paid job, I got paid $25 for less than two hours of work doing a cover letter for a co-worker who is moving to a new state and looking for a job there.
Currently, my next phase in this business venture is to get a website up and running. I'm in the process of educating myself on that whole deal. This includes seeing what the costs are for my own website and if I can do it on my own or if I need to hire someone to do that for me.

I'm pretty excited to have my first paid job and he is extremely happy with the results. Now I will have a paid testimony as well as several unpaid testimonies to put onto my website as well. I'd like to get that going and up and running by the end of the month.

My ultimate goal with this is that I will be able to generate enough income to help support my household and purchase health insurance while I finish school. I have enough incentive to really make a go of this and try to make it work.

I found in helping people I'm good at it, I work in customer service as it is. I know what people want and how to make them happy but further I know how to help people turn things around and find resources while they are trying to do so. I was thinking with background and education one of my thoughts is I would be a really great career counselor. Its just a thought right now but I'm on my way to seeing if that is something I would love to do paid by starting this side business.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Where I have been

Well, I've had sketchy Internet and it seems I do have some right now too at home but the weather it seems has been what is to blame for sketchy net, and the weather hasn't even been that bad so I don't understand but oh well. I do have Internet at work but my schedule is all wonky for the next two weeks and work is demanding lately.

Hopefully, I'll get my receipts together to post from my last posting until now very soon... of course now may turn into Monday or Tuesday but I'm going to try and get them all up. I hope I have everything I spent, its yikes worthy though... at least I'm tracking and I can see where I'm spending too much.

This week is going to be one of those weeks that I don't catch a break at all. Its a shame too because this weekend was just as busy and I don't seem to have the time to be frugal about getting quick things together sot hat I'm not spending arms and legs on convenience foods. I'll get there though I will.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Collection calls for other people


Really, as if I don't have enough of my own phone calls I get these too. Theresa Xxxx if you are out there reading this please update your phone number so they stop calling my cell phone, also for the other guy I forget his name but please do so.

I've had this number for years and years so I'm not really sure how my number go to be the number for these two people but it is annoying.

I've tried with both the collections that are calling me to stop the calls but they say this is the number we have on file and unless they tell us to stop calling we will continue to call. Really?!?! Is that productive? You aren't getting your message across to Theresa or the other guy who I forget your name... you won't get your money this way duh!

I think I'm going to start copying the numbers they call from down and find out how I can block the numbers.

Tomorrow maybe I'll research how I can find out who is calling and how to write a cease and desist letter and quote the FDCPA (Fair Debt Collections Practice Act) after I find the applicable laws of course, if there is such a thing that outlines this. If they then won't stop perhaps I have a case that will help pay for my own attorney for my own bankruptcy. Now how cool would that be?


Spending for 6/16/09

FINALLY, I had a no spend day woohoo!!!!

I got a 'free' lunch... it wasn't necessarily free as much as it was my boss and I sometimes take turns buying lunch and I treated last time so she treated this time. We are both on a budget crunch though so we decided to re-evaluate this and see about maybe taking turns bringing in lunch instead :) yay!!!

Spending for 6/15/09

Almost... Almost had a no spending day.

Spent $1.99 on celebratory ice cream. This was totally my fault too, my kiddo wanted ice cream after her game... I told her no that I didn't want to spend the money that I hadn't planned on. So she had her own money and asked if she bought herself it could we, I said okay. I should have resisted and let her have her ice cream but I didn't. Shame, shame...

Oh and can we just talk about $1.99 for a small ice cream cone (it had a dip flavor, cherry coating thing but still) what the heck? This is going to make me sound old but I remember when.... (oh never mind lol).

Hopefully, now that I had to post my shame in totally impulse spending I will resist next time. Plus that would be a great example for my daughter if I resisted.... this time that sweet, cool, sugary goodness it just called and called and I caved. Blah!

Monday, June 15, 2009

Spending for 6/14/09

I spent a total of $25 at the gas station on gas. That's it!

My car seems to be going through a lot of gas lately, so I'm going to fill up completely as soon as my missing paycheck arrives and watch the mileage and see if it is because I'm driving more than usual or if something needs to be checked out. I had a tune up a year ago so I don't think its that but one never knows.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Spending for 6/13/09

$1.35 on a pop, the water jug was out at work and we don't have another shipment until Monday. That kind of stunk but we don't have a sink in our office either. I had all sorts of those powders you add to water to deter myself from buying pop from the vending machine but those only work if I actually have water lol

Almost a no spend day hrmph... tomorrow won't be a no spend day either I have to get gas and a couple of things. Hopefully, I have one soon.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Spending for 6/12/09

Spending was $1.50 for a beverage at the hospital since my mom was rushed there via ambulance and then $13.00 for gas.

I almost had a no spend day until I got the call to meet her and the ambulance at the hospital.

All is well though she just over exerted herself cleaning out and moving her classroom it was our hottest day this year so far I think and her school has no air she wasn't breathing well. She is now home and recovering.

Spending for 6/11/09

I spent $65.65 at the grocery store. I bought mostly convenience food so my kiddo can make her lunches while I'm at work. I still have to get a few things but I had two lists and left the one at home.

I also spent $16.28 on various things one of them being terrible coffee from McDonald's blech... I though I'd save a bit and buy it there instead of someplace like Panera Bread since I was also out of coffee and creamer at home. Such a waste because I threw it out. I rarely buy coffee out but when I do I won't be buying the new McCafe anymore.

I need to find a way to save on the convenience foods. My kiddo is only allowed to use the microwave when I'm not home, she is highly unlikely to heat up left overs. Perhaps making homemade pizzas together then cooking them and cutting them up into individual portions she will be more likely to do that. She loves French Bread pizza they are expensive... I'm going to work on a way to figure out how to make this much cheaper. I'm not good at making breads anything that includes yeast comes out as a big FAIL for me. She may occasionally make herself a sandwich but she is tired of them after the school year. Hot dogs are something she can do in the microwave, chicken tenders, those taquitos she loves those.... then I am at a loss. She isn't a soup eater, which would be easy, she eats it when I make it and tell her she has to but if I'm not there she isn't likely to eat at all unless I give her options that she really likes a lot. Tween parenting isn't always fun ha!

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Spending for 6/10/09

Of course this week has been bad so today was no different...

Spent $12.63 on lunch, now before you flog me... I work in an airport and I don't have much choice in how much things cost there. I had nothing to bring not even a can of soup. Shopping is a definite must tomorrow (as today started my weekend for this week).

Spent $7.35 on ice cream at DQ to celebrate my daughters first win in softball, she stole home plate after stealing 3rd at the same time. This was planned out for her first win though so I'm not sure I should count it but I will.

Total spent: $19.98

Medical crisis and bankruptcy


I am currently reading an article about 'Financial Medicine' over in the Personal Finances section at The Wall Street Journal

The article states that 6 out of 10 bankruptcies are filed due to medical reasons (illness). This is a big reason I am filing so there is some comfort in that I'm not alone. I also find it interesting that there is such a stigma attached to filing bankruptcy yet over half of the reason is inadequate health care or illness. Now I know some things medically can be prevented however things such as getting into a major car accident or having an inherited disease and other issues. I will try not to get into the political aspect of our health care system and the likes.

The article encourages you to check out your policies and plan from there. What is your lifetime maximum, did you even know you had a lifetime maximum? What would happen if you hit that maximum? What about yearly maximums?

What are your risk factors? Do you know what your plan covers should one of your risk factors (Cancer, diabetes....) come into play? What about medications? I know my plan only offers a slight discount on medications.

Often times I have to go without medication if there isn't a cheap alternative because the insurance just doesn't offer enough of a discount. For instance I once got a needed RX there was no alternative to it and the RX was about $115 every 30 days I needed to take this for a few months my discount plan offered $3 off. Other times I only pay a very small percentage so it all depends on what it is covering.

You could just need something as simple as physical therapy, something else I found out is very expensive. Physical therapy is usually prescribed 2-3 times a week for at least 4 weeks, what is your co-pay? Mine is $30 a visit plus 20% of various things such as the charge for equipment used, or the massage therapist etc... for me in the end I had to decide that physical therapy was just too much money in light of having to file because of these types of reasons to begin with. I do have flex spending but obviously not enough to cover PT with possibly needing surgery too (also have to pay 20% of that, you can imagine it could get costly quick).

Karen Pollitz, a research professor at Georgetown was quoted in the article saying "It's perilous to assume that we are protected just because we have a health-insurance card in our wallet." How insightful really! For me this one sentence is so powerful.

What are you doing to protect yourself?

spending for 6/9/09

Spent $20 on gas at the gas station and about $3.50 (forgot to write it down and didn't get the receipt) on a pop and breakfast.

I swear this isn't how I normally spend every day but I didn't go grocery shopping last week due to being so busy I could barely have time to shower and sleep let alone go to the grocery store. This was all unexpected busy stuff so I couldn't plan ahead.

Next week will be a more accurate description of what I am spending but I wanted to start this now to be accountable. For instance it is already working some, I almost ordered pizza last night but knew I had to report here so I ate a sandwich and ramen noodles instead :)

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Spending for 6/8/09

So it was 9:30 before I could sit down to even think about dinner last night. Last night was an unplanned Wendy's night so I spent $12.96 yesterday at Wendy's because I was also so tired I didn't care that we ordered the more expensive items.

I will be grocery shopping this week and need to find quick things for nights like this. I leave the house at 4:30 am and last night I wasn't home again until 9:30 pm.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Banking for me versus a cash system


I'm not good at this banking thing, I'm especially not so great at the balancing thing.

I tried to make things simple 3 accounts

Savings/Overdraft protection
Checking for bills
Checking for spending/necessities (grocery shopping, gas, some variable bills)

I didn't do so hot, but I got back on the horse and tried again, only I did it again.

With that said. I'm keeping 2 accounts the savings/overdraft protection account and one checking account. I'm getting rid of the debit cards (although for the bill paying account I will keep the number to pay over the phone if I need to, just not the card). The other account I'm getting rid of and I'm going to a cash/envelope system.

I'm also going to start tracking my spending here on the blog.

I'm not sure where I am going wrong. I tracked my spending before and I was surprised with how much money I was spending in places like the gas station buying 'extras' and the likes.

I know one thing is I don't have a set grocery budget, I'm not quite sure how to create one... I just buy some weeks only what we really need to get by and some weeks when sales are great and I actually have the cash I stock up on expensive items. I know this is one of my big budget busters so maybe if I just buckle down with a cash only system I can get this done and get on a good track.

I'm really trying not to get frustrated or down about this, in the past by now I'd have totally given up. I'm going to keep getting back on this PF horse and keep riding hoping I fall less and less as time goes by.

I'm also toying with getting rid of everything but the savings and getting money orders each week when I get paid for bills then putting those together to mail off payment.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Financial Security



Those two words financial and security have never been two things combined I thought were ever in my path. That was the past, today I do know they are but I need to do a lot of work.

I found with the stresses in life right now I'm not necessarily reverting to my old ways, however... I'm not exactly financially healthy right now either. I may not be rushing out to shop till I drop but I still made some costly mistakes. This is a learning curve though, I learned I need to watch more than just shopping, using extra gas to go somewhere (even somewhere free), and just plain ole not preparing for upcoming expenses (ie. kiddos softball expenses which I underestimated by a long shot).

So, with that said I'm making a very conscience effort to try and blog more often even through the time crunch and stress. This is what I need to make time for and no excuses. I am not going to be doing WWYD Wednesdays mostly because I don't want to put a specific day I have to post a specific something as I don't need to add to my work load at the moment, but also because I was having trouble coming up with more scenarios. So I decided that I am going to start writing ideas as they come to me and when I have a list of them, I'll start them back up again. Maybe when I have writers block about that I'll find a new 'segment' to replace it but I want that planned out too. Organization is what it is all about, really everything important in life. Organization is also something that I was never good at.

With organization in mind, I have two days off this week but they are not my normal days. I will take one of the days to organize at least one of my closets at home. This needs to be done, I need to find ways to organize things and the practice will be good. Also, I need to get ready for a garage sale and I can't even begin to go down to my storage cage in the basement until I organize. On the same front I'm organizing at work too, I'm cleaning up the tech library and organizing it to fit company needs and customer needs as well as creating a safer/healthier work environment.

Wish me luck and please cross your fingers I don't get lost somewhere in the abyss of a closet ha!

Sunday, May 24, 2009

If I'm not around much

If I'm not around much posting its because life has taken a turn and it requires my attention.

My mother is having health issues, last night it required me to call her an ambulance and rush over there.

My daughter is at the end of the school year and just began softball season with our community as well. So it has us pretty busy. Every night last week and every night this week she has someplace she has to be. Being mom, I am the taxi driver. All of this and still there is homework, and practicing her instrument and softball.

With all of that said I'm going to at least try to get one or two posts up a week until things calm down. I'm not going anywhere I need this for me and to stay on track.

Any ideas for frugal and quick dinner ideas are welcomed, also ideas for things for the car that we can make and run with would be great.

Sorry I will be scarce hopefully things ease up a bit and I can come back here and post a lot more and participate much more too very soon.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

WWYD Wednesday: Buyouts


Around here many face taking a buyout or face possible layoff, as a matter of fact many have already chosen one over the other.

I have many friends who have made one decision over the other. Some have had success with leaving the state after taking a buyout, those that have stayed have not fared well. Others have stayed only to be laid off later without the option of the buyout but have unemployment. Some have opted not to take a buyout and have done well doing so but may still be in danger now.

I work at the airport and I am seeing many taking buyouts from Delta and Northwest and some who are staying as well. My company is contracted and I do not have that option but we face possible layoff as our contract is up for bid now.

I read an article at DetNews.com on this very subject. Many families are facing the decision on what to do.

WWYD if you were faced with the possible fate of the Auto workers here?

If you took a buyout how would you plan so that you don't fall to the fate that others have?

If you would ride it out what would you do to protect yourself financially?

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

It Pays to Review Your Bills


In the past reviewing a bill was never something I did, I either paid it or couldn't and that was how it worked out.

I've been getting better at it but not 100%. Today I opened my cell phone bill and to my surprise it was almost $415. I know shocker huh? I thought I know I spoke to my best friend in Canada a couple of times OMG what did I do? I decided to review my bill. I had thought I had it caught up so I didn't understand. It turns out that last month some how it their system says I cancelled my account and started a new one and they charged me lots of fees for that including new deposit fees. In their system it says it was cancelled at my request. Ummm no it wasn't.

I called my cell provider and talked to them all of 10 minuets at most before they decided to fix it all. They are not sure what happened and neither am I but my bill is MUCH lower now (thankfully). I also made an arrangement to pay it late it is due now but I had those pesky unexpected expenses. There will be a late fee but that is less than $5 I can handle that and I am working to have that emergency account funded so one day those things don't come out of my bill money.

This is a huge lesson though, I wonder how often these types of things have happened that have gone unnoticed by me. I will be checking every bill from here on out to see what is going on with it and if my charges and balance is correct. I need to set up a system to compare the charges (a filing system).

So review your bills (I'm sure most of you do this because most of you are PF bloggers to begin with), we can all learn from each other here.

I'm going to get off of here, still thinking on what to post for WWYD Wednesday. I had my dental work done today and they couldn't get me numb all the way so it wasn't all that pleasant that is for sure. What was supposed to be 1 1/2 hour procedure turned into 3 1/2 hours and I had a difficult tooth to deal with there was a lot more in there than the x-rays showed. I slept for a bit but I do have to go back to work tomorrow, wish me luck!

Monday, May 18, 2009

Mad dash for cash.


Since the economy started taking a nose dive I've noticed more and more incentive for using cash. Or rather businesses want your cash not your debit card not your credit card, this is because it cost them to run those darn things plus cash in hand especially for a small business just makes sense.

I first noticed this happening at the gas stations, one by one they all jumped on board the other day it was $2.31 for cash and $2.37 for pay at the pump service. I suspect other businesses have other incentives for doing this too (other than it cost money to run those cards through), see if you pay at the pump you don't go inside and buy that coffee or bag of chips they (the gas station) loses out. If you pay cash you must go inside and that increases your chances of a purchase (either planned or impulse). The gas station is one of the few places I'd rather not pay cash but I think I'm going to start doing so. See I'm kind of lazy and in a hurry when I get gas, going in and giving them a $50 bill then pumping and going back to get my change is really just a pain when I'm most likely on my way somewhere.

I read an article at The Wall Street Journal, Paying with Cash Could Soon Payoff it talked about something I wasn't aware of: There are restrictions imposed that make it difficult for some retailers to let the consumer know the fees paid to the credit card companies for credit/debit transactions. This results in cash paying customers paying higher prices so that other customers may use credit cards. The article goes on to state; "Retailers generally pay credit-card companies 1.5% to 2% of the purchase price -- more for credit cards that offer rewards or other benefits. Debit cards generally cost retailers up to 1%."

Now at first I wasn't all that miffed, until I got to the above comment. Why you ask? Well, I don't carry a credit card and I don't make purchases with one either. I do use my debit card though but only so I don't have to carry the cash, I get nothing in return for doing so and if I process as a debit (using my PIN) instead of a credit card purchase (signing for the purchase) I get a fee by my bank. Anyway, back to why I got upset this portion of the quote in the above paragraph "more for credit cards that offer rewards or other benefits." Am I really paying for the rewards someone else gets for using their credit card? Whoa boy! Nothing like getting my blood going now. Personally, I don't want to pay for that.

These are things I never thought about before, in fact I would have never read about before.

Is this a sign of things to come? I wonder, if more knowledge about this will put us back into a mostly cash only society. Where things weren't purchased on credit and debit cards were not even in existence. Certainly if you are getting rewarded for using cash (a retail discount) then unless your card is giving you a better benefit most people are going to use cash right? My mind starts going in a million directions really when I start thinking of things like this. For instance it just popped into my mind that if we go from mostly an electronic transaction society to a cash society then perhaps some of the swipe, sign and its mine troubles people get in might decline. Hmmmm... thoughts to ponder that is for sure.

Friday, May 15, 2009

More money OUT the door!


I really should take stock up in Dentistry, if they had such a thing. Maybe some company that makes Dental items such as the parts to make a filing or other some such thing.

I've been in pain, excruciating pain. I have to admit I'm a big ole baby when it comes to tooth pain. I just am. I have wretched teeth, they are soft and they don't like me I think, I'm sure the dentist pocket book love me though and his wife of course!

I've been going to his office since I was a wee child. I trust him completely and he works with me. In fact he is working with me and giving me some of the procedure for FREE!!! He also saw me at no charge when I was in pain! He really does care about his patients and his main concern is that they get the treatment he needs.

Here is the kicker he is doing his portion at no charge but the main portion I have to see a specialist. The specialist comes into his office twice a week he is an endodontist that will be doing the main portions to the tune of $920 YIKES!! Thankfully I have enough on my insurance still that my portion is only $184 (whew!!!).

It is important I get this done now, the cap is waiting until January when my insurance kicks in again because after this (and some other work I had done this year) I will have used all but $88 of my insurance for the year. He thinks there might be some infection in there and I am in pain that won't go away with just some antibiotics (although I AM on them). I also have a heart condition that makes it dangerous for me to have a dental infection that will keep coming back. So it isn't an option to wait you see.

The remainder of the balance (the $184) will go on my flex spending (whew again!!).

The root canal due to the tooth it is on and the difficulty of what is there will have to be an outpatient surgery. I don't have to go completely under though and that is a good thing. I am a bit scared.

I now have to figure in the cap and what insurance pays (only about half my half will be about $450) into my flex spending for next year. I like to look at my flex spending as a sort of emergency fund because that is what it is there for, yet in a way you have to be careful not to put too much money into it. I'll have to do up a post all about flex spending in case there are some out there that don't know all the ins and outs of these accounts.

Now the other option is I could have the tooth pulled, however pulling teeth sometimes leads to bone depletion in the jaw. Since I am still young I'd like to avoid that if I can. The best option is to have the root canal even though it does cost quite a bit more. Even if I did have it pulled because of the nerves that have to be removed along with it and the location and difficulty of the tooth I'd still have to see the specialist.

Too bad the tooth fairy doesn't visit me anymore huh?

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

WWYD Wedensday: Retirement Investments vs. Debt


In light of most people who had significant investments for retirement losing a good portion of them this year, I thought this would be a good topic to discuss this week.

I read a short article at Comcast Finance about borrowing from your 401k or 403b to pay off debt. I once did this since it was considered a hardship and I lost the job where I was contributing to it I didn't have to pay it back. However it didn't come without steep tax penalties and I only took about something to the tune of $1200 at the time.

Currently, I have no retirement investments (yes, I know I need to). So it really isn't an option for me but it is for many out there who may have enough left after losing portions of it during the credit crisis etc...

But should you? Should you borrow against your retirement to pay off debt? Should you borrow from your future to save the present?

Personally, I say no, at least not in most situations.

What do you think? Would you borrow from your retirement if you were in hot water financially? How much is too much borrowing if you would use retirement to do so? What would be the circumstances you would borrow from retirement?

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Even when you change your past will still haunt you for some time.


So I shouldn't have posted in more than one place that I haven't overdrawn my account since starting to make healthier financial decisions because I did it in two separate accounts now. Well the first one is my fault the second one is sort of but sort of not too.

The first one I overdrew because I accidentally used the wrong card. I have since wrote on the back the 'name' of the account so I don't do that again. I have two checking accounts at one bank and one is for bills the other is for 'spending' right now it is for groceries, entertainment, gas for the car....

So I used the bill one and there was not enough money in there, they took from my savings to cover it but there wasn't enough money there either so I over drafted plus there is a $10 fee if the bank transfers your money and an overdraft fee as well as a daily fee for the overdraft UGH!!

So far $133 overdrawn YIKES!! Just in that account. I need to sit down and talk to them and see what can be waived, I'm going to explain the situation and hope that I get someone nice to help me out a bit. I'm also going to point out that when you get your card(s) in the mail it doesn't include even the name of the account (primary, secondary, student, free checking... nothing) so it is a bit confusing. It can't hurt to ask and try.

The next one is I must have had my checks somewhere in my old checking account, where I'm still getting my direct deposit, and then distributing the money myself until I know I have what is needed where figured out to a science, because someone stole two checks. Now that account is overdrawn, I'm still waiting on the copy of the check so I can make a dispute and a police report. In the mean time my account is overdrawn and I have no money. For the first time in ages I had to borrow some money from my mom (which makes me feel like total crap) for gas in my car. She had $20. If push comes to shove I may have to figure out a way to work on Thursday as I'm not sure I have enough gas.

I will be closing this bank account because they are being total jerks. For instance there is a $28 fee to stop payment on any checks. If you do an investigation and see my checks were indeed stolen I think it would be good customer service to waive this fee but not so. I will give them another chance to waive this fee but I find it absurd to pay and I have spoken to other bank employees for other banks and they all say their banks would waive that fee in this case.

There are other consequences here as well... I have major tooth pain and a slight fever, which likely means infection. I have no cash to go to the dentist. I'm not borrowing the money for that, I do get paid Friday after all. My flex spending is frozen right now because they are disputing something or another that has me quite confused. I can submit a bill I've paid but not use my flex spending card (I get a debit type card so it can come right out of there right away and I don't have to wait for reimbursement).

See I have no money because I got paid on Friday and by Friday evening this is what happened I hadn't had a chance to transfer any of the money. I have stopped my direct deposit for now, I'll just have to cash my check the old fashioned way. I also saw I had other overdraft/bounced fees in the account from a few days before when the check tried to clear the first time. So they've tried this check twice now. I looked in my check book and sure enough the check trying to clear and the next check are missing. I had mandatory inspection and repairs recently by the city (not my complex) that I wasn't home for not sure if it could have happened then or what. There is no one really in my home but my checkbook has been coming to work with me the past 2 weeks since I needed the routing number and it has been in my work bag so I guess there is a slight possibility there too.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Looking for suggestions?

I would like to use the name Fiscal Fussbudget around the net and not just in blog land.

I have realized though it is usually 1 character too long without spaces to fit as a user name in most places.

I would love to get suggestions on name abbreviations or whatever you have. I would love to tie in my blog to my user name at these places. On twitter I just used fiscalfussbudge but that kind of stinks don't you think? I'd like to change it there too, when the time comes I'll have to find out how to do that.

What suggestions do you have?

Should I just stick with fiscalfussbudge?

Ha, I guess this is another Wednesday WWYD huh?

WWYD Wedensday: Discretionary Income


I was reading online and stumbled upon a WWYD link. I thought it might be fun to answer the question.

Being in the situation I am in now, I would choose option B. I know what having no emergency fund can do to a person. Not only what no e-fund does financially but your health too the stress is pretty high. I'd rather take a extra time in paying off debt and have the cushion there. It never seemed an option for me so I'm working on that right now.

Chances are you'll run into some unexpected expense in the 12 months you are paying off the card, or at least that is my experience. Car repairs, home repairs, unexpected medical bills... the list can go on and on.

So WWYD? Please explain... especially if you'd pick option A. I want to hear from you.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Biggest Financial Decision of My Life



So I promised an update, to be honest I've been avoiding it. I feel shame, I feel lots of things.

I spoke with a lawyer, a financial advisor and a credit counselor. All agree that I am in no position to pay off all of this debt, further I keep receiving summons for various creditors and at this point I'm in too deep.

I must file bankruptcy. I've researched, I've agonized, cried, thrown a fit, and felt relief a bit.

The thing is I don't have a whole heck of a lot of consumer debt, I won't get into numbers here but suffice it to say that I'm not here because of credit cards and overextending myself. I'm here because of not ever saving maybe and huge amounts of other types of debt.

I'm at a point where I want to evaluate how I can keep this from happening and I can't say that I can. I can create an e-fund but in order to cover the expenses that are causing this I'd have to have such a sum in there that I'd be hard pressed to save that much in 5 years or less. This is definitely something I need to ponder quite a bit more.

For now... I'm feeling encouraged by this actually and quite a bit of relief. I'm still scared to answer my phone and tell them what the attorney told me to tell them (them being the creditors/collectors).

I can't pay for this attorney up front... I put down a small sum and will pay him off over 10 months and then he will file. In the mean time if I receive any summons for court he told me different things I can file so I'm not garnished and they realize I'm in the middle of all getting a bankruptcy started.

I'm hoping that since school will be out for a bit I'll have some time to earn some extra money to go towards the lawyer. I plan on a garage sale hopefully by the end of June. It won't yield much but its something. I plan on the more expensive items to go up on e-bay. I don't know what else I plan quite yet but I'm hoping that I can earn the cash quickly and just be done with the whole thing.

I did get some good news out of all of this too, but I'm still processing it and how it will all work out.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Overspending


I've blogged about my overspending last week and reflected on it. This week I'm feeling the pain of that overspending. I'm broke!

I hate that feeling and it brings back all the old anxiety.

I've long had bills that are in collections and I've never done much about them. I always took a head in the sand approach and I can see how that didn't work for me in a positive direction. That is what this blog is for.

I've ordered my credit reports and I'm calling for the bills I've thrown out (note the head in the sand approach). I'm making some very tough decisions, some I feel are a must but it has me conflicted. Some I knew I should have done a long time ago. I made a mess.

This past week though I was able to see something different because I have been blogging and that is that this head in the sand approach needed to stop, the whole thing just has to let up. It causes me stress and that causes health problems. I'm still young and can overcome all of it and be financially successful. Again, this is why I started this blog to become responsible with financial decisions and become what I know I can be. I have goals I plan on posting about this week, I want to see those goals actually happen and in order to do that I can't just blog about it but I have to take action. I blogged about that at the beginning of this month; it was here. My first step is to create my goals and actually work on them as well as creating a sidebar with those nifty markers that show progress (note to self: find out how in the world you do those, THIS week).

I'm making a very difficult financial decision at the moment and I will blog about them when those decisions are fully made. Whatever decision I do make the turn around is near. I have an appointment Thursday so expect an update by the latest early next week as to what I decided to do about my finances.

Accountability was my number one goal for this blog so I'm holding some accountability here and doing what I need to do.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

WWYD Wedensday: More of some questions for you all


So, I know a few things about finances and learn even more as I go along.

This is a question I thought of yesterday and today even more so. I plan on looking it up online as well but here goes it:

When talking about housing expenses and the percentage it should take of your income I've heard 25% and 35% of your income should be allocated towards housing.

What exactly is included in those numbers? Is that just rent or mortgage or is it all living expenses like rent/mortgage, electricity, insurance (rental or house), gas etc...

Also is that a percentage of gross or net income?

What happens when your percentage of income is not enough to live on in the areas you have to choose from to live? Is this still a big no-no?

So this week is more of a what do you know than it is a WWYD question. I hope that is okay for my readers but I really had this question looming and it made it difficult for me to come up with anything else.

I suppose I could pose it as a WWYD, as in WWYD if your percentage of income was lower than what your housing costs were. Yes, we'll do that in here as well.

So WWYD? and WDYK (What do you know)?

Monday, April 20, 2009

Have you found motivation?


I lack motivation lately. My last post talked about emotional spending and the problem I've had with it in the past. I'm excited to tell you I have been doing well. I did again overspend... at the grocery store, but not by much. My cupboards, fridge, and freezer were bare because I've been trying to use up stuff that was in there first.

Anyway, I think my ADD is taking me off into other posts ha!

I'm lacking motivation lately, I'm proud of accomplishments I have made but I don't feel motivated to do them. I just do them. I know I'm over scheduled and over booked and that has a lot to do with it. So I've made a decision this morning, well half a decision I need to think it through just a bit, school is out in just a couple of weeks. If I can get through that period then I can make some real progress towards some of my goals. I'll put a few of them on the back burner for now and just get through this rough patch. I'm stressed and being stressed will only make for stressed attempts at my biggest short term/long term goal right now. I'll still make little steps in these two weeks but I'm not going to jump in it full force because I know what that will do to me.

Where do you find your motivation? Do you take a step back ever for the greater good of your goals?

Friday, April 17, 2009

Emotional Spending


I have had a problem with emotional spending most of my life. Granted it isn't as bad as some others but if you compare incomes it really is my percentage of income spent on emotional spending is about the same as some of the others in real financial trouble with really high debt. My debt isn't that high but it is too high for my income that is for sure.

I realized this in therapy actually that when things get really rough I spend the money rather than taking it and allocated what I do have in the best way possible. Since I realized that a few years ago I've tried to be better but I still slip up more often than I would like to.

The past few weeks have been super stressful and I can feel that urge to shop again. I even have done it grocery shopping, I'll see a good deal and buy some stuff I don't really need just because it seems at the time to satisfy and reduce the stress and anxiety. That is temporary though. My habit has always been about finding a deal, it has to be a really good deal to make those feelings go away. It is almost no different than an alcoholic is with drinking and masking things inside. I've gone out and bought CFL's on sale to reduce my electric bill out of my budget even to 'satisfy' this 'need' or urge. I guess if you have this issue mine is of the least destructive kind because I buy things that make my financial life easier sometimes although in the grand scheme of things I make it harder on myself for the time being. The list goes on and on about the things I have bought in the name of emotional spending and the need to be frugal at it at the same time. Its not really frugal though if I'm over extending on my budget now is it?

I realized I was spiraling though and I decided to start walking when I feel that anxiety and urge. Its working and best of all its free. Not that I haven't been off the wagon this week because I spent too much on lunches out but this time will be different I'll have to make concessions the rest of the month (maybe even the next one) to make up for that.
I'm so much more satisfied with the walking now that I'm actually doing it, changing my stress and anxiety relief habits into healthy ones is a hard road. The fact that I am changing it to not just healthy decisions but for my body too makes the walking even that much more satisfying in fact. I'm hoping as I get more strength and endurance I can add in some work out videos too. For now the weather is beautiful and I don't own a bike so walking is free and that is what I will do. I do plan on budgeting in a used bike before summer hits so I can bike ride with my daughter. We have a beautiful metro park within walking distance. It was so refreshing to take a walk with my child and talk to her and listen to her thoughts as well. Walking by myself when things are at their worst is most helpful and I've gotten up at work and left my desk about 2 or 3 times this week to take a walk. What a difference that has made with the desire to just call in and stay in bed as well.

Anyway this post is mostly about my accomplishment this week. I took that anxiety and stress and I didn't go out shopping... instead I did a free activity that both reduced the stress and anxiety and didn't give in to that addiction. Even if I did over spend on lunches, I have a plan for next week since I know it will be stressful the rest of the month. I'm bringing things into work to put in the fridge so I don't have to pack a lunch daily it will just be there then I remove the excuse to go and get lunch while I'm working. Overall I call that a great success!

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

WWYD Wedensday: Tax Day Edition


Since today is tax day our WWYD is tax related.

I'll put a spin onto it, lets first discuss what we are doing with our refunds. Mine goes right back to the IRS to pay back taxes... I know, I know but at least I'm getting it paid off. What are you doing with yours?

Also here is a link for Tax Day freebies, let us know if you utilize any of them. Look at the link there are also links within with tax tips and tax information for all of us but mostly for you last minuet folks.

So now for the WWYD:

You've gotten your refund you have several places you can allocate it to:
  • Your Emergency fund which is almost non-existent but you are plugging away on
  • Spending on a much wanted and useful item you've been trying to save for
  • Much needed car repairs
  • Paying off a credit card
  • A vacation you couldn't afford otherwise

So, WWYD? Tell us why. I tried to think of different possible scenarios that cover someone just starting out in the healthy financial journey because that is where I am at and I believe many people are hurting right now so that can help those people too. If you have other things to add please do add them.

Photo By: reallyboring

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Utilizing Employee Benefits


I have pretty craptastic health and dental insurance fairly good dental and vision. Dental is good because of the orthodontics plan and we are majorly utilizing this. My daughter got braces in September of 2008 and they are mighty expensive if you don't have coverage. In fact, she has 3 dental plans on her until these braces come off. We are lucky in that sense that instead of parenting married we parent jointly, which means my daughter has a step-mom who also carries her on her insurance as well as her father and I.

While those benefits aren't the best I do have benefits at least. However, I also have a ton of other benefits I haven't ever really used. I've decided I'm going to start utilizing them especially the EAP (Employee Assistance Program).

Some of my available benefits in addition to insurance and salary are:

401k - They match. They also contribute even if you aren't contributing how cool is that? I'm not utilizing it to its full potential and I am not contributing at the moment. I think its safe to say that most people have a little anxiety after so many lost so much of their retirements my mom who is 55 lost almost $200k that's a lot of money for someone nearing retirement to loose in their plan. Heck its a lot of money for anyone to loose.

Auto/Home Insurance - This works like a group rate type of thing, you get a discount just for being an employee and other discounts for getting automatic deductions from your paycheck. At the moment I am not eligible for this because the insurance company said they didn't give a reason but you know what I'm going to find out (I think my credit score just sucks enough they don't want me).

Employee Discounts - Too many things to list, hotel discounts, car rentals, cell phone plan discounts, attraction discounts, vehicle discounts (supplier benefit), various home repair discounts (HVAC, plumbing supplies) as we provide these services as well, and really many other items. This will really help whenever I finally buy a home.

Foundation - This is a charity part of the organization I work for, if I do a fundraiser and apply and get approved for a charity of my choice my company will match it. I'll be utilizing this for my 3-Day Walk.

Savings Bonds - I know wha??? That's what I was thinking too but apparently I can purchase them and have a weekly amount taken from my check until they are paid off. Kind of neat, I'll have to check that out more

Scholarships - This is for the children of employees, I don't plan on being here that long but its nice to know if I am my kid can apply and maybe get a scholarship out of the deal

Stock Purchase Plan - I think this has been offered everywhere I've ever been. I've never really participated but one day I will.

Thanks program - This is an employee incentive/recognition program. I don't see it being utilized to its potential at my branch though.

The EAP though, I'm going to utilize that on Thursday to get help financially. They have financial advisers and I think I could benefit even from just a small bit of help here. So many things I can get from the EAP. I'll let you all know how it goes.

What are your benefits you aren't using to their full potential? I urge you to find out what they are and see if there is something offered to you that you aren't using.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Where I've been

Hi all,

I have had a crazy week. I'll be sure to post more this week. My WWYD Wednesday posting didn't go up this past week because I was in a minor accident on the way home from work that day. Actually my whole week was like that. I'm okay no worries.

So this week I promise to be better.

Monday, April 6, 2009

New Business Venture


I've been toying with doing some freelance on different things.



I did some research and I know what I'm good at and have had a couple of offers so I think it is time to do some work on it.



Any tips for someone just starting out doing freelance work?

Friday, April 3, 2009

About change




As people, I think we have gotten into a thought process that we can bring about what we want without changing. I think its fair to say that isn't true but we want the easy way out anyway.


Trent, brought home a point though I hadn't thought about. What are you doing TODAY to bring results towards your goals. Hmmm.... I thought about that and I have to say that I don't really do something daily to work towards my goals. Not in the way where I actually think about it and maybe I need to change that about myself. Even if it is small I think I'm going to start making a list daily of what I am doing to better my situation and work towards my goals. Even if the list only contains one item like study for that anthropology test. See going to school is part of a financial goal because it will get me a better paying career rather then just the job I have now.


I'm very much a creature of habit, I desire a schedule even if I resist it some. I don't like change all that much so I think it is especially important for me to note the changes I make daily or the items I do towards my goal so that I get comfortable with the ideas of these changes I must make.


In ending I'm going to be the change that I want to be, are you?

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Utilities


Utilities are by far the bill I hate paying the most. For some reason I really hate paying for the most basic of necessities as far as living expenses go.

I hate paying the gas and electric bill, the phone bill, and my rent. I wish I could find something I could do to reduce them normally and normally I come up with just about nothing.

There are some plans to reduce though.

Electricity:

I am currently buying the new CFL light bulbs, I have noticed a difference in the few I already have

New savings program - every time something not in use is left on the offender must put 25 cents in the utility jar (all quarters will be used for laundry though) When there is enough I'll put it in the bank to pay the electric bill

Budget Plan, making my electric bill the same each month

Gas (by far the worst offender):

Buying items to winterize next year -

  • programmable thermostat
  • plastic for door wall and windows
  • heavy drapes
  • outlet covers

I will not have another year of this super high Gas bills.

Actually both utilities are on the same bill.

I don't have a water bill per say... it is part of my rent. However, the landlord has a water bill and he has been letting us all know how high it is and encouraging us to help keep it down. I know helping to keep it down will also help to keep my rent down.

Renting brings me to another point, since he doesn't have to pay the gas bill he doesn't care that the furnaces are old or the windows are really bad. Nor, does he have any responsibility in fixing what isn't broken even if they cost me tons of money. Which is frustrating because I also know how incredibly cheap he is and approaching him on this isn't going to help at all.

Photo By: Josh Harkinson

WWYD Wedensday: Leaving a job


In these economic times leaving a job could be a grave mistake. Sometimes though it could make a whole lot of sense.

This is our last Fiscal Year where our contract is valid, and the first time ever the customer is bidding it out. There have been problems with the head honcho here and the customer satisfaction. It really does look like we may be out of here and we aren't hearing a thing about it.

I decided not to actively look but to wait it out and save money just in case (this is what is funding my emergency fund). I also decided after doing the simulator on paying some old stuff off to up my credit score not to do that for now and just work on my emergency fund.

The reasons for this are simple, the job market especially in Michigan is pretty scary and it isn't likely I'll find a decent job. I make better money here than I would someplace (really anyplace else at the moment) I can ride it out here and hope the economy is better in a year to find a job or my emergency fund can float me while getting unemployment to finish school like I wanted when I got laid off a while back.

Don't get me wrong I have my feelers out, I'm working on something to earn extra income, and I'm updating my resume. I'm being proactive but not jumping the gun quite yet. Who knows we could win the bid if I left I could have left a decent paying job (for what I do) for a crap paying job because I was in a panic about something that hasn't happened yet.

WWYD?

Sunday, March 29, 2009

The lowdown on the credit score front




I really like its name, but that is not why I'm introducing Credit Karma to you.

I first learned of Credit Karma from Single Ma at Fabulous Financials, I must have been reading her archives because that post is quite old. Anyway, I learned of credit Karma a couple of months ago.

Since then I learned an overall credit score based on what they told me and did nothing more with it. I just went and checked today really not much changed. I won't reveal my score but it is shameful and disgusting. So it is time to do something. What I can do? I don't know, there isn't much room with my income to really start paying off debt. At this rate though I'll never be able to buy a home and that is one of my dreams (isn't it everyones?).

There are a lot of features there besides obtaining your credit score. Go ahead take a look around. So far my favorite feature is this one Credit Score Simulator. Although, I'm not liking what I'm seeing there and what its going to take to get a high enough score to make a difference in home buying land at least I have an idea.

I can see also that realistically I can't afford a home it there is a mortgage calculator for home affordability it says that my maximum I can afford is $34,604. That is quite discouraging on some levels, but it will keep me staying my course with schooling.

I'm still playing over there, I can't believe I didn't use this to its full potential when I read about it. I'm glad now that I was reminded when reading my email today.


Wednesday, March 25, 2009

WWYD Wednesday: Frugality


This week I'm not going to post a scenario... well maybe I am.

You are learning that in order to work with your budget and live within your means you have no choice but to be extremely frugal.

Most people cut their grocery bill down, however some have cut it as far as humanly possible. Other things to watch and cut could be utilities, and cutting of course cable, internet and phones out.

WWYD to live within your means? What exactly would you cut down? What are things you are unwilling to live/go without.

My partial Answer to what are things I am unwilling to live/go without: For me technically it is possible to live without the internet but it would severely impact my life to do without it and it would negatively impact my schooling and how quickly I could get it done. Going to the library is rarely an option for me besides my library has 1 hour time limits on their computers and internet time. In order to do my classes it is a requirement to have high speed internet.
I'll comment more as I think more on it and see what you all have to say that will help me too. I figure need an emergency game plan to put in action if it ever needs it.

Photo by: Bottom of the Glass

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

More on car repairs


So today I'm having some of my car repairs done. The other day we bought a new hose for the windshield washer solvent and that solved that problem total cost $2.67 not too shabby. The hose was cheap and it was rigged but works and best of all it isn't one of those rigging things that will damage anything else.

I bought the parts for the power steering pump, brake pads & rotors. Total cost $123.99, $20.00 of which I get back when I bring in my old power steering pump leaving the cost at $120.99. I do have to pay the guy repairing the vehicle a total of $50. I love it he needs money and I need repairs so we both can do each other a favor. He works out of his driveway today for a small amount and I can afford it YAY!!!


Total costs for parts and service for today: $170.99 not too shabby.

While it isn't quite as cheap as DIY and I could have tried to get a used pump, this makes me happy for a couple of reasons. I'm not quite sure how cost effective a used pump would be or if it is something that should be put on used and I can't do this work myself.

Now I need those pesky gaskets (trans pan and oil pan) replaced and I think I'll be good to go. I need to find a garage to do this as the car will need to be lifted for the work. Cross your fingers that the brake issue fixes my problem and it isn't something much bigger.

What have you done for auto repairs? Do you barter for services? Do you do it yourself or do you go to a garage or a friend?

Side note. I decided to add a feature to this blog WWYD Wednesday where I'll post a scenario either one a reader submits, my own or a made up scenario and ask WWYD. I thought it would be a good way to get the blog going in the right direction and keep me posting as well as help out the readers.

Photo By: The Prime Buyer's Report

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Feeling discouraged, and car repairs


So I started my savings, I haven't been able to add much more to it and now I'm going to have to take from it.

My car (as usual when I get to this point) has taken a turn and is in need of repairs.

So far it needs:
  • Rotors and brakes
  • Power Steering Pump
  • New hose for windshield washer solvent
  • New Gasket for oil pan and trans pan both fluids are leaking
It wants:
  • Front end work that can wait
  • Rust prevention
  • The remote start I got as a gift installed
  • Whatever leaks badly when it rains so I get a soaking floor on the front passenger side
I still owe on this car so it isn't really feasible to look at other vehicles. The car is 7 years old. I hate the car. However, it has a lot of money sunk into it already. I bought a lemon I think from my mother at blue book value at that. Never buy from family, EVER!

As luck would have it, I only have to buy the parts and give my boyfriend's BIL a few bucks to work on it. It is still depressing, this car has had a lot of work done to it.

I've been discouraged about this and so I haven't posted. I am trying not to go back to my old stick your head in the sad ways so I'm posting here.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Variable Expenses


Variable expenses in my expenses are a source of anxiety and confusion. I'm not quite sure how to account for them and figure out what to budget each month for each of them.

Also, some months I don't have those expenses and some I do. I keep forgetting to add certain things to the budget because it isn't something I've needed to spend on in a while. Like household items, sometimes I don't buy any for months and then bam I run out all at the same time and need new of everything, which can get expensive for the month. How do I figure out how much of these items I use in say a year and budget out the money for them all year long so the money is there when I need it?

What variable expenses do you have in your budgets? I know I'm overlooking items and I'm afraid of doing it all wrong again.

Photo by: FCN

Monday, March 2, 2009

WWYD Edition 1: Accepting "gifts"

Okay new edition to my blog, not sure yet how often I'll do this but I figure its a great start to getting interaction between bloggers so WWYD?

Scenario...

You are practicing becoming financially healthy, your friends have more money to play with than you do for whatever reasons (it doesn't matter the reasons in these scenarios they vary anyway). At various times they all want to do things with you, you turn them down. Except each time they beg and offer to pay.

What do you do?

They call it a gift, you feel like its charity. Which is it?

Is there a point you just always say no?

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Score!! Found Gift Card

So last year I got a gift card for Christmas (yes OVER a year ago), and I lost it, I couldn't find it anywhere.

Yesterday in my attempt to clean out the car for my trip into Canada on Wendesday I was getting in between everything and I found it!! What is great is I'm flying out of Windsor and need to bring my laptop and school books with me, that is NOT going into checked luggage, too much worth there. So I was at a loss at how I was going to bring stuff for me, as that will have to go into the overhead compartment its a rolling laptop bag that will have 4 college text books and my lap top. Unless I found a big enough purse, I had almost resigned myself to not having anything for that 12 hr flight (including layovers). Now that I found this and it was a score I can get that purse.

Unless anyone has some other suggestions on what I can do to pack a few magazines, a book and headphones, along with essential supplies that I'd need to carry like you would in your purse. I'm game for that because then I can use the GC for essentials with coupons and really be saving.

Saturday, February 28, 2009

Budget Headaches

That panic of what is in your bank account and what you can budget is terrifying. I've avoided it long enough. I spent some time this afternoon going over a rough estimate budget. This budget doesn't even include yet my savings or a true emergency fund. It does include $600/year for car repairs, but it includes no clothing allowance and no room for other emergencies.

As it stands at this very moment I need an extra $133.68 a month, once you add in other emergencies, funding an emergency fund, clothing allowance, and other expenses for my child (ie. extra curriculars that weren't included), money for a mini vacation for us.... I'll need a considerable amount more. Oye!

All of this doesn't even mention the amount I'll need to get caught up as well.

Also, I'd like to start doing screen shots and sharing them but I'm not sure how to do that on blogger so any tips are helpful there.

There are minor changes I can make to adjust but not much, things are already pretty bare bones as it is, and the items that are not bare bones have contracts.