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.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Banking Day The New Financial Life Has Begun

In my last post, Making Uniformed Decisions When Banking, I discussed in part the old me and how I went right to that when I was excited I was approved for the bank account at a certain banking establishment. Instead of researching I just willy nilly applied at one got approved and went woohoo!! I should have researched then applied.

So I did my research and wrote my lists of pros and cons. I found only one bank in my area where banking would be convenient as well (an important factor for me as it is part of keeping me organized enough) that had a promotion $50 to start a new account. That's a pretty good promotion. None of the other banks even had those little gifts they give you but that's not really what is most important in the grand scheme of things I was soon to find out. The bank that did have the $50 for opening an account also did not have half of the features I was looking for and their fee schedule was a bit much for me, when I look at what fees I usually encounter I wanted to find a bank that had no fees or low fees for those items.

After all my research at about 5 or so different banks I came to my conclusion and guess what? It was the original bank I hastily applied at and went woohoo about. I opened two checking accounts with them and a savings account (which is also linked to both checking accounts as an overdraft protection). I think I will open another savings with ING Direct as well but I'm going to wait a bit on it.

While I still ended up in the same place I am so glad I did do the research and did it all the right way so that I could practice safe and healthy financial decisions. Part of becoming healthy financially is doing those things consistently.

Now I must really try and reach my goal of creating a budget so I know what goes into what account and work on keeping it balanced. I need to pick a day to do that weekly balancing and going over the budget that will work for me.

Picture by: Terri Zwierzynki

Monday, February 23, 2009

Making uninformed decisions when banking

So I decided that I just went with the first bank I looked at.

For a while now I haven't been able to be approved at any bank because of something in chex systems. That must have finally fallen off because I got approved through an online application for a bigger bank. I was so excited that I could give up my crappy bank account that is online only with no branches I just decided I would open it when my check came (it hasn't come yet) I have to deposit $50 in each account.

On Saturday I was driving and saw a sign for another bank that was GIVING $50 to open an account. Banks are doing this because they want your business and your money. So why shouldn't I try for that at least? Compare the features of all the accounts and make a decision.

So that is what I'm going to do. I have a list of banks that I want to check out because I know there are plenty of ATM's and branches in the area (which is hard to find in my area there are only a handful of banks but some of the other banks have ATM's up in the area and like 1 branch that is either in the community or just out of it). Of course all of them are FDIC insured.

Given all of this, I started this blog to become healthy financially. Making a banking decision just based on one bank isn't the smartest and healthiest financial decision so I'm going to do what I intended for this blog and do it right!

So lets share...

Where do you bank?
What features do you like about your account?
What made you choose that over another account at another bank?

Photo by: Consumer Action

Thursday, February 19, 2009

What I'm doing wrong... or it takes 30 days to make a habit!

There are several things I know I'm doing wrong and why I've always had financial crisis. Its not that I'm totally frivolous but that I do indeed have a limited income. Although, I do make enough money to make it and have some savings. So what am I doing wrong?

I know I get caught up in the save a little here and there theme of frugality and it does save, but it frustrates me and I quit. Mostly, what I'm doing wrong Sisterly Savings spoke about in her post today Organized Bill Paying. I know I'm not organized at all it is part of my ADD I spoke about in my initial post.

My first goal is to get organized to kick that off I'm going to organize my finances this week by creating a new budget. I have opened a new bank account that has two checking accounts. One has certain features which were appealing and the other has other features I found appealing. I am also going to open an ING Direct account and will have my savings at the credit union for my loan payment. Oye! Just posting the amount of accounts to keep track of has me in a panic. Never fear though, that is the best way for me to stay organized. Sounds backwards doesn't it? Well each account will be for something different. If I mix my bill money in with my emergency fund I WILL spend the emergency fund because I'm not organized enough to not do it. I must organize myself in a way that will be effective for me.

I already have one of the spiral books to hold bills in it that Sisterly Savings speaks about in her post, the problem is I have never actually used it. So that is on my agenda for my budget and financial organization plan. I am also going to make a plan for some of my wants and needs. I'm not ready to post about those quite yet because the plan isn't ready by a long shot.

My newest motto is it takes 30 days to make it a habit. I need to start making healthy financial habits, I have identified my biggest problem which is the organization now I must tackle the issue.

My next step will be to organize my home, in small steps. Big steps overwhelm me so small steps are the way to go a project every weekend is good even if it is just one cupboard or two eventually the kitchen will be organized in an efficient manner.

What are some of the best ways you organize?
Do you have a financial system that works for you? Feel free to share.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Frugal Eating, Dinner Post

One of my ways to save money is by eating frugally, yet healthy at the same time. I will post and share some of my recipes as I have time and see fit to share with all of you. I'll try to put costs next to this as well as servings if I can to give you an idea of what to expect. I also am submitting this to Erin Chase's blog at $5 Dinners to her Mr. Linky Challenge in hopes that she'll post my recipe.

One of my favorite frugal recipes was shared with me by a dear friend, she doesn't blog so I can't link her. I've tweaked it up and adjusted to be even more frugal so I'll share my recipe. I'm making this for today so it gave me the idea to do this as a segment of my blog.

Hamburger Stew

* 1 lb of ground beef browned - I paid $2.30/lb
* 1 small bag of frozen mixed veggies (you can also use cut up fresh veggies if you wish, I just use whatever it is I have whatever kinds of veggies it doesn't matter) - I paid 99 cents on sale for Kroger's Value Brand
* Half head of cabbage (red or green, I prefer red but will use whichever is cheaper) - I paid 99 cents for 1 head of cabbage at Aldis making for this recipe's portion approximately 50 cents
* 3-4 cups beef stock - Free if you make your own, which I do from scraps and bones
* 1 cup chicken (or poultry stock) - Free if you make your own, which I do from scraps and bones
* 1 can of tomato paste - I paid 49 cents on sale
* Pepper to taste - should cost cents on the dollar for sake of this recipe we'll say 5 cents (I'll get better at estimating seasoning costs as time goes on)

-Brown and drain ground beef
-Chop any veggies that need chopping and either chop or shred cabbage
-Combine all ingredients into the crock pot
-Cook on low for 8-10 hours

*Serve with homemade biscuits, these can be made even cheaper with completely homemade but I use a cheap version of Bisquick. For a batch of biscuits it costs me less than a dollar, we'll say it costs me $1.00 (again I'll calculate this and get better at it).

Servings: 10

Total cost of this recipe including biscuits: $5.33
Cost per serving: $0.53
This will last my daughter and me about 4 meals so cost for my family per meal: $1.33

Why this blog?

Evaluating your finances is never an easy task. I get lost easily and it is emotional for me as well. I have hit "rock bottom" too many times to count and decided its time to dig myself out and become fiscally healthy.

My blog name came from my friend Angela, I hope to provide her the link and she'll frequent here. She's a smart lady!

I have been reading plenty of financial blogs and my favorite financial blogs are on my blog roll. I'll likely end up adding my other favorite blogs I follow because I love them all for different reasons not all financial. I'll work on separating the two lists so readers can see right away what is what.

My financial life has always been a mess. At one time I had a special bank account that allowed you to overdraw up to $500 with only one fee and I lived like this week to week. I also during this time took out various payday loans to stay afloat. Thankfully I got out of that! I have faced the fact that my diagnosis of ADD as a child was probably correct and one of the reasons I have never been good with finances. Finances require organization something I lack in but hope to strive for with this blog. I'll track everything I can think of and post and blog. The blog will be about finances, frugality and my life as a fiscal fussbudget. The blog is my journey into being financially healthy as well as my financial past, present and future. What that all means to me fully is yet to be discovered but watch the blog to hear all about it when I do.

I have dreams of buying a home one day, having an emergency fund, being debt free, being able to live comfortably without financial worry. If I want to accomplish these dreams I need to do something about it all, so this blog was born. I hope to hold myself accountable as well as grow with this blog. I will post my mistakes and my victories in hopes we all learn from them, helpful tips I find which help me or have helped others, among many other items. The ideas are there, now I must do something with them.

I hope that this blog will provide help to others as well as myself.

Photo By: Money Cubby