January 26, 2010

Still working on it

Posted in Uncategorized at 1:58 am by janemb

I haven’t posted for quite some time, but have still been working on my budget. I’m not doing as well as I’d like, but am making changes. My credit score has gone up about 135 points from where it was a few years ago. It’s still not where I’d like it — which shows you how low it really was. Yikes!

In the past year I’ve bought a lot of needlepoint projects and gone a bit overboard on that craft. However, I have now found a way to pay for my craft without spending my salary. I stitch for customers and models for the store, and also work on Sundays and teach a class on Thursdays. I work for trade, so it’s a good deal for them and for me.

I’ve been paying about $360 a month on my student loans so am making a dent on those. I’m also starting to pay my sister back for a dentist bill from last year. I’m budgeting $100 a month to send her, although I know if I’m tight she’s OK with $50. She offered to pay when I went to the dentist, but neither of us had any idea how much it would cost and were really thrown by it.

I’m  also paying off some old debts. I’m OK with paying some of them as settlements. It may not be the whole thing and may temporarily affect my credit score in a negative way, but I’m more concerned with getting my debts paid off than raising my score, at least right now. I’d rather have that money to put into a savings account.

Speaking of a savings account, I just signed up for a checking and savings account. I haven’t had either for years, just cashing my check and getting money orders and paying with my pre-paid debit cards. However, I think I’m ready to go back to having a checking account. A savings account is necessary, as I have a habit of spending my “saved” money if it’s here. I just applied online tonight, so we’ll see what happens.

I hate the fact that I’m as old as I am and still having problems like this, but I do take comfort in the fact that I don’t have a car payment, a huge mortgage payment, nor credit cards that I’m currently using. My goal is to have a savings account and one credit card I (literally) keep on ice for any huge emergencies. After I get about $15k in my savings account for emergencies, I may get rid of the emergency credit card, as even if I don’t use it the thing will cost me money. Still debating the credit card, though — I may not go for it at all, just use my debit card. I don’t have to worry about that right now, anyway.

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September 13, 2008

Gave in a little today, but not too bad

Posted in Uncategorized tagged , at 11:20 pm by janemb

Over the last year I’ve been doing a lot of shopping. I got tired of looking like a person wearing a paper sack and revamped my wardrobe. Just because I’m fat doesn’t mean I have to dress like a slob, right? So, I have a better wardrobe for work and casual stuff and I can’t tell you how much it’s helped me gain confidence in myself.

However, I started to get a bit addicted to the shopping — a new pair of shoes here, new pants there, etc. I don’t have to have designer labels and most of my clothes come from Kohls, Torrid, Fashion Bug and Lane Bryant, but added it up it’s still a lot. Same with shoes — I buy them at Payless, Kohls and DSW, but they still add up. So, I’ve been staying away from clothing and shoe stores and it’s really helped. I still look online and in catalogs but I usually don’t buy. There’s something about buying online or from a catalog that is easier for me to avoid than when I’m in a store. I guess because when I’m in a store it truly is instant gratification.

Today was a test. My boss and I took some girls shopping for some outfits to wear to a banquet for an award we’re giving their dad. We went to a bunch of stores that had stuff I really liked. Now, I did bring some cash with me but I didn’t buy anything with them. However, it did get me jonesin’ for some shoes. So, I stopped by Payless on the way home and bought some black ankle boots and lavender plaid wedges — total was $51.98.

So, I spent cash that I already had on me that I thought I might spend earlier, but I didn’t spend all of it. I took it from cash I was going to use if I needed more groceries this week, but I’m OK and will be fine until I get paid on Friday. The best part about this is I did not get into any of the money I have in savings for this shopping trip. I won’t lie, I thought about it, had all these reasons why I deserve to get something new. In the end, I left the money in savings and used envelope money that I could afford to use.

So yes, I did do some shopping, but I was responsible about it.

August 23, 2008

Two more down!

Posted in debt snowball tagged at 7:11 pm by janemb

Neither bills were huge, but I paid off a small bill ($40) that’s been hanging around my neck and paid off another credit card ($212). I have a ways to go, but it feels good to make progress.

August 21, 2008

I avoided using my savings

Posted in will power at 11:28 pm by janemb

I had a surprise bill this week that I paid with my blow money. It wasn’t a lot – $25 – but when that’s your blow money for the week, that’s pretty much it. So, I had a little extra money leftover from groceries that got me through the week. I mean a little — less than $10. I really didn’t like only having that much cash on hand, but I resisted the urge to use what little money I have in savings at the moment ($130). I don’t have a lot there and am getting it up to $1k, and don’t want to start taking it out here and there. That’s not what it’s for.

So, I got through the week and will get my check cashed in the morning and I’ll have that extra wiggle room of my blow money.  Although I felt a little nervous this week, everything was fine. My car had gas (budgeted), I had food every day for lunch (budgeted groceries and cooked meals), my public transportation for the month is paid for (monthly pass, budgeted), and I’m down to getting Starbucks once a week at the most (budgeted).

It feels good to know that I was able to do it.

August 16, 2008

Homemade cleaners

Posted in general thoughts tagged at 4:06 pm by janemb

For quite a while it has annoyed me that too much of our household budget goes to cleaning supplies. I know a lot of people make their own but I wondered if they actually worked. I’m getting tired of spending the money, plus I’m trying to find relatively easy ways of being a bit more envrionmental friendly,  so I’m going to give it a try. Looks like most of them involve inexpensive household ingredients such as rubbing alcohol, baking soda and vinegar. I’m going to try making a few and using them, with a few rules in place:

1. We tend to buy bleach to use for some things, so I won’t have ammonia in the house. I don’t like having both hanging around. I did find some recipes for glass cleaners that used rubbing alcohol and not ammonia, so that’s what I’ll use.  The smell of ammonia alone really gets to me, makes me lightheaded and fuzzy, so I’ll stick with bleach. I actually like the bleach smell — reminds me of chlorine and my competitive swimming days, lol.

2. Depending on how much so-called “elbow grease” it takes for some of these to work, I still may use store-bought cleaners when needed for tougher cleaning when I procrastinate. Of course, the way around that is not to procrastinate, but I’m also trying to be realistic. My wrists, hands and now elbows aren’t as good as they should be and huge amounts of scrubbing will haunt me for days. I’d honestly rather pay a little and not be as “green” on those occasions then pay physically for days afterward.

3. I found some inexpensive essential oils at the Puritan’s Pride website that I think I’ll use for some cleaners so that everything doesn’t smell like vinegar. I’m going to research if there’s anything I shouldn’t mix the oils with, but I think it should be OK. I’m thinking of going with lemon or orange as a start.

4. I will still use store-bought laundry detergent. There’s no way I can get Tim to use homemade stuff for his clothes. He works in a factory and won’t use anything but Tide.

August 15, 2008

Good and bad of the week

Posted in Uncategorized tagged at 10:22 pm by janemb

The Good

1. Tim usually gives me $x a month for his half of the bills. Well, since I’ve been cooking so much he hasn’t been ordering out nearly as much as in the past, nor buying snacks, so he gave me $80 toward the bills yesterday. I told him I was OK and didn’t need it, but he wanted me to have it anyway. I told him it was going into savings and he was happy about that. This is new for me — getting extra money and immediately putting it into savings because I have enough of everything, including a little cash, to get me through until I get paid next Friday.

The Bad

2.  Fell off the Starbucks wagon a bit this week. Instead of going over there once, I went over there three times. Oy. I blame the Olympics because I was staying up late each night watching my favorite events, swimming, diving and gymnastics. Well, I really don’t blame them because I know it’s my own fault and I could have had some extra tea, but the Starbucks gave me a bit more of a jolt. I will be back on my once-a-week schedule next week.

August 10, 2008

Well, that’s one way to get motivated

Posted in general thoughts at 9:43 pm by janemb

I’ve already been remotivated to get money into savings and get my debt paid off, but today clinched it. We had a tornado warning, a serious one. I know, a lot of places get tornado warnings every day for weeks at a time it seems, but I’m not used to it at all. On the radar map it was all red with that dark red/black color in the center. Yikes. I can handle snow, ice, wind, rain, even heat and humidity (though I hate it), but I’m not used to tornadoes and it freaked me out a little. Some parts around here got almost baseball-sized hail, but we didn’t get any hail at all, thank goodness!

It also made me realize why I’m working on becoming debt-free and saving money. I’m looking forward to the day when I can feel some comfort knowing that, in a crisis, I have my ducks in a row. Both Tim’s and my cars were out in the parking lot and we could have lost them, too. They are paid-for and have minimal insurance, one’s a 1991 the other’s a 1995. However, we don’t have the money to replace them even with a very inexpensive car and that really would been a problem. I can always take public transit to work, but where Tim works and with his crazy schedule it’s almost impossible.

Good wake-up call. I’m glad I was already waking up, but this really brought me to full attention.

August 9, 2008

Doing well in August

Posted in general thoughts at 10:48 pm by janemb

I should post my budget here in addition to writing it my notebook, to help me be accountable. In the meantime, however, I have the following little items that are making me happy at the moment:

1. It’s the end of the first week of August, and I already have my new registration stickers (due at the end of August) and my car inspected (due in October). Usually I’m one to do both of these things at the last minute, but I got them both done early and didn’t have to sacrifice other bills or put anything on a credit card to do it.

2. I renewed my AAA membership. I love my 1991 Corolla, but realize things go wrong so this really helps my peace of mind.

3. I have $50 in savings. Not much, but it’s a start. Saving money is the hardest thing for me to do, so the money is currently encased in ice in a small container in my freezer. LOL. I see people do that with credit cards and figured it would help with my savings. That way I either have to melt it or break through the ice to get to it and it will give me just a little more time to really think about needing to spend it.  I will be adding more to it as I go along.

4. Just ordered my groceries online for the next two weeks, except for produce that I buy as I need it. The $10 I spend for delivery is sooooo worth not having to fight my way through the store or getting sidetracked by items not on my list. I went through the sales then decided my menus for the next two weeks, which really helps. I don’t go totally nuts, as it’s important to me that we eat well, not just cheaply. There’s a lot of inexpensive food out there that is absolutely horrible for us, so I’m OK spending a little more to eat in a relatively healthy manner.

5. My utilities are paid for the month, rent of course has been taken care of for August, I have my public transportation pass for the month, and I have a little extra for the next two weeks for my Avon order and a once-a-week treat from Starbucks.

6. Almost forgot — I’m also paying off another credit card this month! I know, technially that $350 should go to my savings. However, it’s a settlement offer and is less than half of what I actually owe on that account, so I’m going to take advantage of it and get it out of the way.

July 19, 2008

Still here

Posted in confessions at 4:43 pm by janemb

I’m still doing OK with my bills, but I haven’t made much progress on the savings or debt snowball. It’s my own fault, all about me not putting aside my wants so that I can do this. Over the past few months I’ve done more clothes and shoe shopping than I really needed to do. Well, I did need a few progessional tops for hot weather that I could wear to work, but I didn’t need as much as I bought. The good news is I’m actually wearing the shoes and clothes I bought, they aren’t just hanging in the closet. That aside, it wasn’t necessary.

So, I went through my budget and my goal of all debts but student loan paid off by the end of 2008 probably isn’t going to happen. However, I can still get them all paid off before next summer begins – except the student loan, of course.  So, I sent an email to my family that I’m trying to get my savings going and become debt-free so I don’t plan on travelling this year, not even on holidays. I think they’ll be OK with that, but I figured I should put it out there.

I really fell off the wagon for a while, but the economy issue has scared me straight. I’m not all gloom and doom and thinking the world is going to end, but I’m trying to be practical — not easy for me, but necessary.  Also, I work for a nonprofit organization and slashed budgets don’t tend to favor the social services. Of course, that’s when we’re needed the most, but that’s the way it goes. Granted, the nonprofit I work for runs itself like a business and is fantastic, but we still get a lot of our program funding from government grants.

I’ll post more details regarding my goals later, but wanted to post something to remind myself that I’m working on it, if anyone is left out there. 🙂

February 22, 2008

Things are getting better

Posted in general thoughts, shopping at 11:51 pm by janemb

I think healthwise things are a bit better. I just got back from an extended weekend visiting my sister in San Francisco — which sounds expensive, but I stayed at her place and she used her miles to fly me out, so it was pretty inexpensive and has hopefully helped me rest and get out of this funk I’ve been in. I also found out that she has the same foot problem I do and hers is due to a genetic defect — a bone in her foot that never fused properly and acts up after 35+ years. So, I’ll check it out some more and if I have to get orthotics, so be it. They aren’t cheap but I’d like to be able to walk distances again.

So, onto the real reason for this blog — my finances.

I’m now paying $350 a month to my student loan and plan to start paying more on a monthly basis after I get my smaller accounts paid off. My immediate goal is getting more money into savings so I have my $1k in the bank. My utility bills are up to date and I give about $50 a month to charity and sometimes add a little more. What I’m paying comes out of my paycheck and goes back into the nonprofit where I work, plus I sometimes donate a little money to various preservation and animal charities. It’s not a lot because I really need to be paying off my own stuff, but I feel good giving just a little bit to causes in which I believe. I’m looking forward to the day when I am debt free and all my investment ducks are in a row and I can give more to my favorite charities.

I’m also doing better with the groceries. I admit it — I really don’t like cooking after working all day and we order out more than we should. I’m getting better, though. I find it helps if I cook a bunch of stuff on Sunday and put some in the freezer and some in the fridge for the week. Then I only have to heat up and add vegetables and other quickly-cooked items. I may get back into that habit this weekend. I’m going to my friend’s house Sunday afternoon for the Oscars and Saturday I’m out for most of the day, but I think I can squeeze it in. Also, almost everything I bought last time I shopped (I go every two weeks) was on the Acme flyer as a special, which helped me quite a bit. I buy most of my produce at a little produce place near work and the prices are great and the food is much better than what I get at Acme. I budget a little each paycheck for the produce store.

That’s it. Nothing exciting, but I figure I need to get back in the habit of posting here as I think it helps me keep going.

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