Friday, January 30, 2009

What I Give Up vs. What I Get

It's the end of the first month of 2009, and for us, it was a great one. We made great strides to being debt free and saving. I have really, really cut back on my wasteful spending, and have been pretty good at sticking to a menu and have reduced our grocery budget greatly. I am excited to start a new month and see how much better we can do now that we have a system.

Which brings me to my topic for today: What I Give Up vs. What I Get. Since starting a new budget and setting high goals there are things I have given up that were normal to me. But I have gotten a fw things as well. I made a list to help me see things in a better light, and see that isn't now all about sacrifice, but about balance and finding a flow between savings and living.

What I Gave Up:
1. I don't get my nails done anymore.
2. I limit where I drive, or run several errands on a single trip.
3. I plan my menu better and use what I have on hand.
4. I made more things from scratch now on my days off including cookies, pancakes, muffins, dinners. Then I freeze them and can pull from them throughout the week.
5. I don't get new clothes every week.
6. Energy drinks.
7. Dining Out.

What I've gotten:
1. I find that I like doing my own nails, it's fun and relaxing.
2. By planning my errands I am saving time for myself, which I didn't realize I needed until I had more of it!
3. I like to cook, and find that when I plan a menu cooking isn't stressful. It also saves time at the store and at home to have a list to follow and not wonder what's for dinner.
4. I like baking, and I like being able to know the quality of what's in my pantry when I make it myself.
5. I have more fun making new outfit combinations out of what I have in my closet already, plus after cleaning and purging I find that laundry day isn't so terrifying because I now have ROOM in m closet and things I love.
6. I don't need energy drinks, they are BAD for me, and without them I save time by not having to run into the store to grab one before work.
7. I like eating at home, I like knowing I made dinner, that I saved money and that I can use the leftovers for lunches. I also realized that we didn't dine out because we wanted to, but more because it was a habit.

So, there is it-the balance between giving things up and having what I need. I recommend making a list, it helps me feel not so deprived, but more accomplished and orderly! What's on your list?

Saturday, January 24, 2009

YAY! Great News

I got a promotion and raise at work. It's $2.50 an hour, so it's a really a blessing and will help us reach our goes very quickly. In fact, we should be completely consumer debt free in 4 months, and COMPLETELY DEBT FREE, including both vehicles (mine is already paid off). It also means we'll bump up our retirement savings from 5% to 10% this year. We are so excited and even more motovated now. It really feels wonderful!

Jan 25-31 Menu

Sunday: Spaghetti, Garlic bread (made with hotdog buns that need to be used.)

Monday: South Western Burgers, Corn, Cornbread

Tuesday: Shrimp Alfredo SteamFresh Meal

Wednesday: Pork Chops, Au Gratin Potatoes, Green Beans

Thursday: Chicken Cordon Bleu, Rice, Carrots

Friday: Jumbolya with Sausage

Saturday: Chicken Strips, Potates, Peas

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Jan. 18-24 Menu

Sunday: Meatball Soup

Monday: Chicken Cordon Bleu, pasta, broccoli

Tuesday: Shrimp Alfredo (SteamFresh Meals)

Wednesday: Spag. with meatballs

Thursday: Meatball Subs

Friday:SouthWestern Burgers, Corn, Cornbread

Saturday: Date night, "Mexican and a Movie"

Thursday, January 15, 2009

2009: A Look Ahead

I just jotted this down in my "Money" notebook, and thought I'd post it on here, too. It's just a rough idea of the things to look forward to, and plan for in 2009. Again, it's just the highlights that I know I can count on.

Jan: Pretty slow, should be able to save/pay off a lot.

Feb: Sometime this month we should get out taxes done. That money will got to debt.

March: Again, pretty slow. Which is a blessing, it means I can add more to savings, pay more on debt.

April: I *might* quit my job. I really want to. If I can have my debt goal met then I will. My little brother is getting 2 weeks off, before he moves to his next duty station so I want to spend that time with him at our parents house.

May: Slow

June: This will really be an awesome month for us. First off, it's out 5th wedding anniversary!!! And David hits his 6 year mark with the Marine Corps, meaning he'll get another $250 a month. We want to increase our retirement (TSP) by another 2%, being it to 7% of his income. He also gets his annual clothing allowance, (about $350) which will go to debt/savings.

July: David's 25th birthday, also both vehicle tags are due, $100.

August: Nothing much, more saving and more debt payoff.

September: I will turn 24! My goal it to be 100% debt free (excluding David's truck) by my birthday.

October: Debt should be gone, savings should increase as a result. I also need to make sure we have enough in the Christmas account.

November: In November we always cash in our Credit/Debit card points to use as Christmas gifts.

December: Christmas!!!! And gearing up for a great new year and a Re-enlistment!!!!

Week 3 Mid-Week Update

This has been the oddest week for me. For starters I was out of town Sunday and Monday. I got home around noon on Tuesday, so I didn't get to start my week on Sunday, which totally messed me up. Then today (Thursday) was payday for both David and I. Like I've said before all my checks go to debt and/or savings, so I never count on them. But I hate when he gets paid in the middle of the week. The challenge with my friends is going really well. This is the first week I've been able to participate since I was on vacation last week. I've had the urge to go buy a few things, but then I remember that I'll have to "confess" and I realize it really isn't worth it after all. I am making a list of things that I think I'll need, but won't buy because of the challenge. If they stay on there for 2 weeks then I'll talk it over with David and see if we both think we need it. I'm finding, however, that within the 2 weeks I realize they really aren't worth and I lose interest in that item. And I also started a game with myself. I'm seeing if I can find or make somethings on that list. For example, I need some sort of shelf to store my stockpile on. My first instinct was to go buy one at Wal-Mart. But then I remember I can't spend money! So now, I'm trying to come up with a way to make one. It's fun being creative about what I have on hand.

Budget Check In: $ Actual ($ Budget)
Food: $0 ($0)
Gas: $20 ($20)
Cash: $40 ($40)
Misc: $0 ($50)

So far, everything is right on plan, and I haven't touched that $50 misc!!!! I can really see how the challenge is working for us.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

The Wonder that is Kool-Aid.

When I was a little kid we drank kool-aid all the time. DH and I used to drink it a lot too, but slowly we switched to soda. Now I realize neither one is healthy. But, I drink it anyway, and I don't plan on stopping. However, soda gets expensive. I can normally get a 12 pack for about $3.30-ish. I go through 2 a week (GASP, I know, I know!). That's $6.60 a week, $26.40 a month....are you ready? $316.80 a year. David's truck payment isn't even that much. And that' just 2 a week. I could drink more and it's also no counting drink ordered when we dine out, or from the vending machine at work. I know switching ot water would be ideal, and I might try it later on. But for now, we'll be trying to drink more Kool-Aid. For the sake of this post and because I can't remember exactly how much, we'll say a 5 pound bag of generic sugar is $2. A 5 pound bag of sugar hold about 12 cups, making each cup $0.17 each. A packet of Koo-Aid is around $0.20. So for 2 quarts, it will only cost about $.037! Not too back!! Of course, water is free and what I should be drinking, but...we all know how that goes.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

January Week 3

I did not fall off the face of the earth. Yet. I was actually on vacation in Chicago. WHY did I leave me warm and cozy south to travel above the Mason-Dixon in the middle of winter? For my wonderful brother of course. He graduated from Navy boot camp on Friday. I had a fabulous time, it was the first time I'd ever left the south. I have tons of pictures and stories, but for now I need to get back on track!

Menu for this week:

Sunday & Monday: Still on vacation.
Tuesday: Chicken Cordon Bleu, mashed potatoes, corn.
Wednesday: South Western Burgers, Corn, Peas
Thursday: Jumbolya
Friday: Frozen Pizza
Saturday: Meatloaf, potatoes, peas

Budget: (Not including regular bills, which have already been paid.)
Food: $0 (Being out of town last week, I still have meals I can cook without buying anything. LOVE that!)
Gas: $20 (Once again, because I was out of town, I didn't use any gas, and still have a full tank.)
Cash: $40 ($20 each)
Misc: $50

I have gone over and over this budget, had David look over it and I've gone over it more. I feel like I'm forgetting something because I don't feel like I'm spending enough. I know that sounds crazy, but for so long we've wasted so much that spending just what we need seems odd. But I don't need groceries, or gas and I pulled out our "allowances" already. So let's home it works as planned and I can add all that extra to savings!

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Exciting News!!!

Well, actually 2 exciting things.

First off, a great group of friends and I have decided to do a Money Challenge. The goal and plan varies from family to family depending on the needs but we either A) are trying a No Spend Week or B) Tracking every penny spent. Or both. Our first week will be 1/4-1/10. We'll check in every night and at the end of the week we'll come together, talk it over and start over. It will be a little different for me this week, since I'll be on vacation. But I've already paid for the rooms and all I need to buy is whatever I find along the way and HAVE to have. I'm thinking $100 cash should cover it. I'll still be checking in daily, or trying to.

And the second is that I met my new neighbors (the husband works with David). They are wonderful! And she is total couponer like me! We are planning trips already. I'm super excited to get to know her and have fun shopping together.

Jan 2 CVS and Wags

Part of my goal this year is to blog and track more. So here is a recap of what I bought today:


I had already stocked up on the blankets, pens, highlighters, and razors from this weeks ad, I just went in to see what deals I could grab. I got some cheap candy for my brother's stocking. We are taking his presents to him when we go to see him graduate on Friday.

2-little mesh bags of candy-Clearance $0.25 each=$0.50
6-Hershey Santas-Clearance $0.12 each=$0.72
Bobby pins-Clearance $0.65
2-Lip Smackers Clearance $1.39 each -$1/2 MC= $1.78 for both

Used $3 RR, total OOP was $1.01 ($0.36 tax)

Total saved: $11.40

5 Blade Energy drinks= $5
2 Pantene Mouses-clearance $1.25 each, 2-$1 MC=$0.25 (plus $2 ECB, profit of $1.50)
5 PayDay Protein Bars clearance priced at $0.42 each= $2.10
1 Gilette shaving gel clearance priced at $1.80
2-4packs of CVS TP $3.29 each, BOGO1/2 so $4.93 for both, -$3 CVS Q= $1.93 for both
1 Alka Seltzer $4.69 -$1 MC plus 1ECB= $2.69
2 Kids Throat Coolers, $4.99 each= $9.98 -BOGOF Q= $4.99 for both plus $9.98 ECBS, total profit $4.99
1 Rimmel Sexy Curl mascara $7.49
1 Rimmel eye shadow $5.99, but I had a coupon to get it free when I bought the mascara!

Used $5/25 CVS Q
Used $20.19 ECBs
Total OOP=$3.37 ($1.21 tax)
And I got back $13 ECBs

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Hello 2009, Day 1

I'm sure everyone is on the same page today-excited about 2009. We are especially excited for this new year because with planning, hard work, and frugal-ness we will meet our financial goals and be completely debt free. I really got serious about this in November, and since then have made great personal strides toward a more frugal lifestyle. We're starting off on the right foot. I'm going to make it a goal to try and blog more frequently. Not everyday, because I know that probably won't happen. I think it was Dave Ramsey that said the problem with most goals is that they are realistic to begin with, thus you are setting yourself up for failure. January is a busy month for us, like most families. I'll be traveling to Chicago with my parents and sister to see my brother, Matt, graduate from Navy boot camp. David has to stay here and work, so he won't be joining us. I'll be out of town January 6th-14th. I've been trying to plan meals that David can/will cook on his own. It also changes up my budget because while I won't be needing much gas, and only groceries for one, I volunteered to pay for our rooms on the trip. ( I actually lucked out because my parents are paying for all the gas, car rental, and food.) I don't do well at all with changes to my budget. But I just need to plan, plan, plan and STICK to it.