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Warning - Rant Post

November 16th, 2016 at 06:32 am

Health:
Breakfast: Bacon, egg and cheese sandwich, coffee, Goodbelly.
Lunch: Overnight Oats and Orange juice.
Dinner: Unplanned.

Well we are in the middle of open enrollment at work and of course, the company said there would not be any premium changes. Yay! Oh, but wait, later they come to say that premium stays the same if you are union. If you are under SCA (Service Contract Act), the premium increases.

There has not been a wage increase for SCA contractors for the entire eight years of the Obama Administration. So, while everything else goes up, my salary has stayed the same.

So, with employee and children, the increase amounts to $74.02 per pay period or $148.04 per month. Swell! And we have a new insurance carrier. Luckily my husband has a job and carries his own insurance. Spouse coverage is insanely expensive.

I now have to figure out how to live on $148.04 less per month while trying to get ahead.

Analyzing Last Year's Spending Trends

November 3rd, 2016 at 04:44 am

Health:
Breakfast - The usual
Lunch - Scrambled eggs on toast and a banana
Dinner - Homemade chicken pot pie
Snack - Back to Nature Multigrain Flax Crackers and a coke.
Fitness - 30 minutes cardio and 30 minutes personal trainer.

Yesterday's Spending:
1-liter Coke = $1.07
Gas = $20
Check for niece and nephew's birthday = $40
Total = $61.07

According to Mint.com, here are my Spending Trends from last year (2015):

Category Spending
Uncategorized $8,390.50
Auto & Transport $6,065.27
Home $3,662.39
Bills & Utilities $3,565.28
Fees & Charges $3,080.93
Education $2,314.57
Food & Dining (most purchases) $2,092.08
Business Services $1,750.35
Shopping $1,417.68
Health & Fitness $1,315.34
Gifts & Donations $340.00
Personal Care $80.97
Entertainment $71.05
Misc Expenses $16.00
Total $34,162.41

I'll have to examine the uncategorized and miscellaneous spending in particular to figure out what that is. But this gives a picture of what my annual spending is. If I am to put together an effective emergency fund and retirement fund, this is a good place to start.

Another Day Another 100 Dollars

September 21st, 2016 at 04:58 am

Health (today):
Breakfast: overnight oats, apple and coffee
Lunch: Cheese omelet w/tomato and onion on a slice of bread, plain greek yogurt with frozen blueberries
Dinner: Pork roast w/mashed potatoes
Snack: fresh pineapple
Extra Food:
Workout: I had to cancel my workout yesterday because I ended up with one additional inspection. I really need to make the time tonight to at least go to the gym and walk the treadmill for a half hour. I know I would feel better.

Finances (yesterday):
Expenditures
I spent $4.28 at Wendy’s for lunch (even though I brought a grilled cheese from home). I didn’t have cash so I used my credit card. Not good.

Income
I should receive my pay stub today so I’ll know what my paycheck is.

I earned $100 yesterday (at the time of the last post I only had 1 scheduled for $50). I rarely touch the money from my side business. We have the typical expenses that involve paying for insurance, business license/tax and other things business oriented. We pay DS1 when he does inspections. But we have earned enough to pay off my car (I had $5k left on my car loan balance), and bought desperately needed living room furniture $2k. We were sitting on flat cushions and getting pinched by the springs.

DH did his side gig yesterday and came home early (10:00 pm). Typically he gets home around 11:30.

Savings
I decided to add an additional $10 to my medical leave fund. I estimated that before taxes, I make $147 per day. After taxes and deduction that makes about $80.50 per day. I would like to have a cushion of 3 days since the leave is intermittent. So far I have $110 saved so that is just over a day I have saved.
It is very hard to make my goals with the cut in salary due to an FMLA day.

Life
I’m here at work now and after I get off work, I’ll stop over at my uncle’s house to check on him. Then I’ll stop by my parents to check on them and pick up DS3. Then I drive DS2 to his therapy appointment before the rush hour really hits. Maybe while I wait, instead of reading, I’ll just walk around the parking lot for a half hour. I think I’ll do that because after I get back home I know I won’t feel like dressing out and going to the gym.

2016 Holiday Budget

September 6th, 2016 at 03:15 am

Health:
Breakfast: Cinnamon roll and coffee
Lunch: Ham and cheese sandwich and chips
Dinner: Hamburger from the grill
Snack: None
Extra food: Root beer float

Here is my budget for the holidays:

Thanksgiving Dinner: $100 (we do both turkey and ham and ‘pot-luck’ the sides) I wish one of us worked for a company that gives away a turkey or a ham to their employees. That would be really a nice perk. But we don’t so if we want it, we gotta buy it ourselves.

Christmas Gifts: $400 (Mom, DH and DSs)

Christmas Dinner: $75

Grand Total = $885
Birthdays:
DS3 = $100 for Adventure Landing, birthday cake and money gift
Twin niece and nephew = $25-40 for birthday gift(s)
DS2 = $125 for Japanese Steakhouse, birthday cake and money gift
Total = $265

Halloween:
Candy = $15
Costumes = $20-$30
Total = $45

Thanksgiving Dinner: $100 (we do both turkey and ham and ‘pot-luck’ the sides) I wish one of us worked for a company that gives away a turkey or a ham to their employees. That would be really a nice perk. But we don’t so if we want it, we gotta buy it ourselves.

Christmas Gifts: $400 (Mom, DH and DSs)

Christmas Dinner: $75

Grand Total = $885


Happy Labor Day and Weekend Trip Budget

September 5th, 2016 at 04:44 am

Happy Labor Day in the USA! We are going to the beach to say good-bye to the summer! We are packing a cooler with sandwiches, potato chips, sodas and water. No plans to spend any money today except to top off the fuel tank.

Health:
Breakfast: Ham & Egg omelet with toast, coffee, and good belly
2nd breakfast: none
Lunch: peanut butter sandwich
Dinner: Fetuccini Alfredo with shrimp and garlic bread
Extra food: banana

Financial:
Grocery shopping
Home maintenance items at Home Depot (salt for our water softener, AC filters, faucet handle and replacement washers for the shower).

DH and I had a discussion about our financial future. Topics we explored are how to earn extra income – passively, toward paying off our debts and saving for retirement. I think we are finally getting on the same page. Now we have to put together a strategy. I pulled out my textbooks when I took a financial planning course (I was going to change careers and be a financial planner but I decided against it.). However, the course was very eye-opening and I got insight from the financial planner’s side – one that the average consumer doesn’t see. So I will spend some time studying on how the best approach to move our 401k funds leftover from our previous employers and figuring out how to properly reinvest it. We are thinking about real estate. Lots of research ahead!

Weekend Trip Estimates:
Meals: 4 days x 2 meals per day = 8 meals x $15 per meal=$120 x 3 adults = $360 (I’m estimating high).
Transport round trip for 3 adults = $158
Hotel 3 nights at $125 = $375
Rental car 3 days @ $35 per day = $105
Total estimated for trip = $998 (ok $1,000)

Remember, I offered to pay for the meals and my dad will pay for transport and hotel. Hopefully we won’t be eating that expensively and we won’t need to rent a car.

Thinking Ahead

September 4th, 2016 at 06:59 am

Health:
Breakfast: 1 Pancake (Kodiak cakes w/matcha tea powder), a banana and coffee
2nd breakfast: none
Lunch: Chicken pot pie leftovers
Dinner: Attended the potluck dinner at church and I brought shredded BBQ chicken and a cherry pie.
Extra food:

Financial:
I counted all my change jars and it was eye opening. I have over 40! That’s crazy. That does not include DH’s change jar.

I had to buy materials for my side business. A whopping 2.14.

I also bought for my twin niece and nephew at the dollar store a Halloween greeting card and a trick or treat bag for each of them. I also bought a birthday card since that is coming up in a couple of months.

While at the dollar store I went on a spree and bought a dozen each Halloween cards and Thanksgiving Day cards. I am a member (actually this year I’m a board officer) of our church women’s group and part of our ministry is distributing greeting cards to nursing home residents. This is an out of pocket expense for each member and each lady buys a dozen or so cards apiece. This is money that I have budgeted for this. I already wrote out the cards and have them ready for this year. Yesterday’s purchase are for next year. At the dollar store, the cards are beautiful and cost only .50 each. Sometimes I order greeting cards online from Current (www.currentcatalog.com) and take advantage of free shipping.

Planning and budgeting because the money is going to start flowing from now until the end of the year.

While in Miami, I may get some Christmas shopping done at the Miami International Merchandise Mart (www.miamimerchandisemart.com). I LOVE that place because it is really affordable for high end things like handbags, fragrances, jewelry and clothing.

My first gift purchase is a shirt called a ‘guayabera’ for my dad for Christmas and it came from my Christmas fund. Finding a long-sleeve one is not easy but I found one with very good reviews on Amazon. He wears the short-sleeved version every day. So anyway, my dad’s gift is purchased and it came in yesterday.

Gift ideas:
I saw on a commercial on TV for the ‘Neon Glow Twister Tracks’ for only $20 (http://www.bing.com/images/search?q=Mindscope+Neo+Tracks+Flexible+Raceway&FORM=HDRSC2). I think I may get that for my nephew who will turn four in November for his birthday. I will have to find an equivalent gift for my niece (his twin). On the other hand, I may wait until Christmas to send it so that they have presents from me under the tree. And for their birthdays I may just send money and a card for each of them. I’m not sure how I’m going to handle that right now. I also plan to send them each an Advent Calendar (the kind with chocolate). I usually send that around Thanksgiving.

I’ll have to think hard on what to give my mom, DH and DSs. Believe it or not, my DSs love the $9.99 gift card from Great Clips! In the past, I got them each a card and loaded it with the equivalent of five haircuts. I know they will each get that.

Birthdays:
DS3 is the next one to have a birthday at the end of this month. We will likely go to Adventure Landing (www.adventurelanding.com)? DS3 turns 17.
Niece and nephew twins birthday is early November and they will turn four.
DS2’s birthday is early December and he will be 20. He enjoys the Japanese Steak House so we may celebrate doing that.

Holiday Planning:
Halloween costumes and candy: We get invited to two parties a year and I half-way manufacture our costumes. This year, DH and I are going as Beetlejuice and Lydia. The boys have long past stopped dressing for Halloween but they may dress up if they go to the party. If they opt to stay home, they don’t mind passing candy. Lately there haven’t been too many trick-or-treaters.

Thanksgiving dinner: I am planning my Thanksgiving dinner budget. I think we may be having other guests this year. My worry isn’t the food expense as much as the space. We live in a very small home so I don’t know how we’ll accommodate everyone.

Christmas: My mother usually does the dinner. Now that she is getting older, I may need to step up this year and do a greater share of things. So I need to get the usual menu together and budget for the meal. Of course, gifts.

Upcoming Weekend Trip

September 2nd, 2016 at 06:03 am

Well, Hermine came and went. Our household is fortunate that our power only blinked. We woke up to a windy day. DH and I have the day off so a four day weekend. My prayers for those in its path as it goes north. Sorry she had to come to ruin your holiday weekend Frown

Health yesterday:
Breakfast: Overnight Oats and coffee
2nd breakfast: none!
Lunch: Greek salad and apple
Dinner: Chicken pot pie
Extra food: Plain low-fat greek yogurt with frozen blueberries, cheese, a glass of wine.
Workout: 30 minutes cardio on bike and personal trainer workout (arms).

Financial: No spend day.

Weekend Trip:
In a couple of weeks I will be going to Miami and Naples, Florida with my parents for a three day visit. DF will stay home as this isn’t really a pleasure trip. We are going to see my aunts and uncles, one who has Alzheimer’s.

My dad said he would pay for everything. I offered to pay for our meals and he conceded (thankfully). We are going by Amtrak (www.amtrak.com). So he’ll pay for transportation and lodging and I will take care of our meals. At least the hotel has complimentary breakfast so lunch and dinner is all I need to worry about.

I don’t think we will need a rental car as my aunt will be available to drive us wherever we need to go. If for some reason we do need a rental car, I think I can get a little compact car to bop around in. I need to budget carefully. My rule of thumb is to set a budget and then add 10%.

Her Name is Hermine

September 1st, 2016 at 04:36 am

We are still under tropical storm watch even though Hurricane Hermine hasn’t made landfall yet. We are making basic preps. We do not know yet if schools will close tomorrow and whether or not DH and I need to report to work. Though we are located at the southern end of the storm when it passes through, the possible impact on our area could be tornados, intense rain and flash flooding. I understand that Hawaii is getting a double hurricane at the same time. Louisiana is still reeling weeks after their storm. Pray for all those impacted by these storms.

Health yesterday:
Breakfast: Overnight Oats and coffee
2nd breakfast: cheese omelet on 1 slice of toast
Lunch: Greek salad and apple
Dinner: ‘Brown Dinner’ (Salisbury steak with mushrooms, onions, gravy, mashed potatoes, green beans)
Extra food: banana and 3-2-1 brownie (http://www.duncanhines.com/recipes/cakes/patti40/3-2-1-microwave-cake/)

Snowflake: Amazon credit of 5.99 for selecting no-rush shipping (for Prime members). Promotional credit expires on December 7th so I need to remember to order something else on Amazon before then.
I got this for ordering my dad’s Christmas gift yesterday.

Financial Goals:
I’m following Dave Ramsey and working on baby step #1 – save $1,000. I'm already a third of the way there!

At the same time, I am working at paying off my debt but I am thinking that perhaps I should pay the minimums and become more aggressive with savings deposits in order to reach $1,000 by December 31st. The last quarter of 2016 I will devote to doing this. I have some money crunching to do but I think I may be able to achieve this in four months.

Come January, I will devote 2017 with baby step #2 – paying off debt as aggressively as I can. My smallest debt also carries the largest interest rate, so I may just go with the debt avalanche method. Dave Ramsey’s method is the debt snowball.

I am so glad I started this blog. This has helped me tremendously these last few days in getting my financial perspective together. Thanks everyone for reading and for your encouragement!

I Didn't Plan Very Well

August 30th, 2016 at 08:45 am

Yesterday:
Breakfast: Overnight Oats and coffee
Mid-morning (I might as well call this 2nd breakfast): breakfast burrito
Lunch: Greek salad and apple
Dinner: Taco salad
Extra food: none
Personal training at the gym: 30 min cardio warm up on treadmill and bike and full body workout with personal trainer.

My car is running low on gas. I put in the 20 that my dad gave me on Friday when I took him to the doctor. The fuel lasted nearly five days at just over half a tank. I am also running a low on funds because I paid more on CC1 than usual and that brought my remaining spending money way down. I have no idea what I was thinking so my ‘no spending’ willpower will need to take over until next payday which isn’t until September 9th.

Anyway, I asked my DH for a loan from his side gig slush money for gas until payday. I needed enough for this week and next week. With the loan I picked up some things at the grocery store: eggs (75 cents per dozen mediums!), bread (BOGO), bananas, and water (we are under tropical storm watch). I put the change in my change jar and updated my sidebar (dresser).


Day 5 How I Use Capital One 360

August 27th, 2016 at 07:29 pm

I briefly mentioned in a previous post that I have savings in Capital One 360 for the days I am out on FMLA (family medical leave act) to take my dad to the doctors. I recently began this fund to supplement the wages lost on the days I am away from work. FMLA is supposed to protect you from job loss due to being away from work for many absences due to medical situation or caregiver duties.

Anyway, opened my first account when they were ING Direct and they had an amazing interest rate. The interest rate is now abysmal but I use it like an envelope system for expenditures that are not in the normal budget. Like an escrow account like CCF uses.

Here are my escrow savings accounts with Capital One 360 (deposits every other week on paydays):
Healthcare FMLA days, 20.00 (I just opened this)
Christmas Club, 10.00 (I hope to supplement with gift cards I earn from apps. I may try surveys if I have the time)
DS3’s school expenses, 5.00 (He is a junior in high school. Saving for his senior year and all that entails).
Clothes Makeup and Hair, 5.00 (this is for me)
Travel 2.00 (low priority but I may have enough for travel in September)
Lunch Going Out, 2.00 (setting aside funds to have lunch somewhere)
Sharebuilder 1.00 (investment accounts, IRA and Roth)
CCW Dues n Cards, 1.00 (I’m in a ‘Church Lady’ group. This is already fully funded for 2017)
Gym annual fee 39.99 x4, 7.00 (Even though I knew about it, it still took me by surprise last year. I’m prepared now).
I don’t know why I haven’t opened one for auto insurance. I will need to do that soon. We taught DS1 well because he escrows his auto insurance. Proud of him!

Yesterday:
DH working overtime.
Spent 3.75 on a box of ice cream sandwiches.
Counted the change in my change jar = 6.07
Breakfast: 2 slices of French toast, 1/2 banana, coffee
Lunch: half a sausage and some cheese
Dinner: Turkey/Veggie Casserole (My first attempt. Needs some improvement), red wine.
Snack: 2 oz. of hard cheese
Extra food: Ice cream sandwich (dessert)

I think I will start a NSD ticker for the month of September and display on the sidebar. My goal is to have 15 NSDs in September (half the month).

Day 4

August 26th, 2016 at 07:06 pm

I'm getting the hang of this!

Work drama (update): Well it was much worse than we thought. DH’s company says they overpaid him by 395.18! Apparently the company accidentally had him (and other employees) receiving a benefit that he did not rate. That’s no good. I imagine they will deduct a percentage each paycheck until it is paid in full. That means they would deduct about 40.00 per paycheck. That’s crap!

I took my dad to see an orthopedist for his knee. The doctor diagnosed what my dad suspected all along: arthritis and gout. He has gout flare ups which are incredibly painful. The doctor’s assistant took some fluid from his knee to send to the lab and then gave him a cortisone shot. Hopefully this will make him more comfortable and steady. The doctor also prescribed medicine for his gout. My dad is very happy with this doctor and feels he can trust him. He hasn’t trusted the other doctors we have been to lately. My dad gave me 20.00 toward gas.

Yesterday:
Groceries estimated 125. Actual 154.52
Gas estimated 35. Actual 20 (filled 3/4 tank)
Lunch at Burger King (treated DS1 & DS2) 16.04
Snowflakes: 20 from my Dad for gas (for taking him to the doctor)
Earlier in the month: 5.00 from lottery scratch ticket my mom gave me, 15.00 copay overpayment refund, 16.69 dividend from profit share from my first employer.

I do this for the benefit of my diet.
Breakfast: Pancakes (www.kodiakcakes.com) & coffee
Lunch: Whopper, fries, Coke Zero
Dinner: Lasagna, sweet plantains, salad
Extra food: 1/4 portion of a veggie calzone and 3 glasses of wine (neighbors came over to hang out). We already had the wine. They bought the beer and the calzones.

Personal Training workout on Thursday 8/25: arms

Dinner menu plan for next week:
Saturday: Turkey/Veggie casserole
Sunday: DS2 & DS3 are involved in Church Youth and they have dinner there. DS1 works the evening shift at a grocery store so Sunday’s meals are very simple.
Monday: Eat at Mom’s
Tuesday: Taco salads
Wednesday: Brown dinner (Salisbury steak with onions, gravy and mashed potatoes)
Thursday: Chicken pot pie
Friday: Eat at Mom’s

Day 3

August 26th, 2016 at 04:29 am

Today is payday. I have two main checking accounts that I set up some time ago for different reasons.
8/26 Paycheck:
1/2 payment for CC1 and CC2
1/2 power bill
1/2 student loan bill
savings deposit
tithing monthly
security alarm service
mortgage (transfer from DH’s account)

There is drama. My DH’s job has made a mistake with the majority of the employees’ paychecks who have worked overtime. The errors are as low as a penny or two per hour to up to a dime per hour. Now they are auditing everyone’s paychecks a year back and are demanding their money back. So DH spends about two hours yesterday, on his own time ( I think this should have been on company time since the snafu was theirs) printing out his pay stubs and going through the OT rates. He did find errors on some which amounted to less than $50.00. A huge relieve because we were afraid it would run into the hundreds. The company was recently sold and the changeover will be completed by December so they are scrambling to audit their accounts. Very sloppy. I hope this new company is better.

I have the day off from work today to take my dad to see a new doctor, an orthopedist for his knee issues. I use Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) to take my dad to his doctor appointments. I elected the “intermittent leave” FMLA because I only need time off to drive him to the doctors. If you didn’t know that and were considering using FMLA to help a family member, this is available. My mom doesn’t drive and he has some mild mobility issues (reason for his medical appointments) and also a language barrier. He has been living in the U.S. since 1962 and though he understands enough English, his pronunciation is limited and his understanding of what he is told in English can be misunderstood. So I’m the interpreter.

FMLA days are without pay so I started a savings account with Capital One 360 recently to fund my days off. For take home pay, that is about $80 per day. So I am trying to build up that account to make up for time lost.

Yesterday 8/25:
Helped my uncle with his new answering machine
$50 loan to DS2 for college textbook (unplanned spending)
Personal training at the gym
Breakfast: overnight oats, coffee, omelet on toast
Unplanned snack: a slice of cake someone brought in at work
Lunch: chicken tenders, mac n cheese
Snack: Greek yogurt with strawberries
Dinner: shepherd’s pie
I need to control my eating as well as my spending!

To do today:
Meal plan
Laundry
Side gig (earn 50)
Dinner at Mom’s (My mother cooks dinner for us on Mondays and Fridays-HUGE blessing!)

Variable spending for today (estimates):
Groceries - 125
Buy gas – 35 (gas buddy priced the lowest at 1.88/gal)



Day 1

August 24th, 2016 at 10:14 am

I decided earlier this year to split my monthly expenses on each pay check so that I have a little breathing room on each check (money to spare). It gets to where it is tough to pay all from one check and be basically broke for two weeks and so far, this system has worked out well for me.

For 2016, I have 10 more paydays for my regular job. I also have a side business that is not steady but reliable, meaning, that I can count on having assignments each month from my business, but some months have more activity than other months.

I know that I can do better on my savings and debt reduction and as I blog my thoughts, I know that I can come up with a plan to get ahead!