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Home improvement progress

April 29th, 2015 at 10:00 am

We are slowly making progress on the many home-improvement projects we are hoping to do this year. I bought a new kitchen sink and faucet at the Home Depot and had the plumber out last week to install them. (We also had him deal with some leaky fixtures while he was here.)

Last week I also met with the roofing company about our damaged gutters. I'm waiting on an estimate from them, along with an estimate for installing a vent in our attic.

This morning, I met with a landscaper about clearing out areas around our house and simplifying our landscaping. He won't be able to start work for a month, but it's nice to have that scheduled as well.

There's still a long list of projects, but it feels good to make progress even as more items get added to the back end! I've updated my sidebar with money saved vs. money spent.

Sister help

April 27th, 2015 at 06:30 am

It's been awhile since I last posted -- I've been tired and busy and chugging along. And I've been reading blogs even though I haven't been posting. Smile

My sister and are are currently helping each other out. She is pretty frugal and a good saver, but not really sure what to do with her money. So she has just been accumulating it in her checking account and letting it sit there. Like for 10 years! She does contribute to her retirement account at work and makes a Roth IRA contribution every year. But other than that, everything was just sitting in one account.

Like I said, she's a great saver, so she'd accumulated a fully-funded emergency fund, a downpayment for a house (she's thinking of buying next year), and more.

Anyway, I finally convinced her to let me come up with a plan for her funds. It was actually really fun, since our finances are pretty automatic at this point. We opened up a high-yield savings account for her EF and downpayment (not super high interest, but better than what she was getting before!) and opened up a taxable investment account at Vanguard.

After opening accounts and moving money around, we also set up automatic transfers for each month, so that her money won't just accumulate in one account again. Since she is a nervous investor, we left a big buffer in her checking account and chose pretty moderate funds to invest in. She seems happy with it, and I think she will stick with it!

In return, she is doing me a favor. She is in great shape and is very good about eating well and exercising. So now every time I eat something, I send her an email. (Thankfully Gmail threads them all together.) It seems to be working so far! Since she is my sister, I am completely honest about what I'm eating, but knowing someone is actually seeing what I eat (as opposed to just writing it down somewhere) is helping me make better choices.

So far it seems like a win-win situation. Smile

Opened accounts for the kids

April 2nd, 2015 at 07:31 pm

I took fifteen minutes tonight to open investment accounts for each kid at Vanguard. These are UTMA accounts with myself as custodian. The plan is to fund them with any gifts from relatives that are meant for college, as well as contributions from us so that $500 per year is added for each kid.

I had hoped to open them with $2500 for three-year-old DS1 and $1000 for zero-year-old DS2, but the minimum to open a Vanguard account is $3000, not $1000. So I put in $3000 for DS2 and $4500 for DS1. Since these will be in their names, I want to keep the contributions as fair as possible.

So that's another item off the goals list. I had planned to add $500 to each account on their birthdays (gifts from relatives plus additional from us), but since the opening amounts were higher than I intended, I'll call the goal done for the year.

We plan to put most of our "college savings" in regular investment accounts under our names, since we don't know what the plan will be to pay for college down the line. These will be the only accounts that are in the kids names.

March spending

April 2nd, 2015 at 08:19 am

Here's our variable spending for March, compared to the previous two months.



Mostly posted for my records, and to meet my goal of tracking/posting for the entire year. Not going to say much about it, except that overall it does appear to be decreasing a little bit each month...

Better day today

March 27th, 2015 at 07:40 am

Yesterday I threw myself a pity party. Thanks, everyone, for your kind words of encouragement.

Anyway, it appears DS2 reads my blog, because he gave me a six-hour uninterrupted stretch of sleep last night. I can't remember the last time I was asleep between the hours of 4 and 6 am. It's amazing what a little extra sleep can do!

For example, this morning I had the energy to actually take the five minutes to switch out the old broken bath toy container for the new one I purchased three months ago. And now there are no longer bath toys strewn all over our bathroom.

We also got our tax refunds -- state came yesterday and federal today. We had a $40 reimbursement from DH's work, too, so I sent it all to the EF. We've now added $4895.10 so far this year. Only $104.90 to go to meet the goal!

I'm disappointed in myself but I don't actually care

March 26th, 2015 at 07:53 am

This will probably sound a little (a lot) like a whine. I apologize in advance.

When I checked in on our monthly spending last week, I saw a few categories were already pretty high, so I made it a goal to not spend any more in those areas. One of them was leisure. Then, on Monday, I just went and ordered DS2 an exersaucer for $60! Since then I have also purchased two Kindle books, rented one movie, and purchased five TV episodes to watch. And it wasn't that I forgot my goal. Each time I thought about it and then went ahead and made the purchase anyway.

Here's the thing. I'm really, really tired. We are in the fifth month of not getting adequate sleep, and I am tired. I don't want to watch my spending. I don't want to pack my lunch. I barely get any time for myself right now, and if I want to watch the newest Hunger Games movie then I want to watch it. If I want to have new TV shows to watch while pumping, then I want to watch them. If a new toy has the potential to keep my son entertained for a few minutes so that I can make dinner, then I want to buy it. It's selfish and entitled, but there it is. I am too tired to care if I don't meet my goals.

It's the same thing with food right now. I should really be giving up treats so that I can lose the rest of this (not a small amount of) baby weight. I should be able to resist temptation. But I'm really tired and I know that the sugar will keep me going for a little but longer, so I buy it and eat it anyway. Again, I am too tired to care if I don't meet my goals.

It makes me think of the advice a good friend gave me after DS1 was born. She basically said: Don't beat yourself up about not losing the baby weight. Cut yourself some slack until you are sleeping a reasonable amount on a regular basis.

So that's it. I'm going to cut myself some slack. I am going to keep tracking and posting my spending. It may not be pretty, but I'm not going to feel bad about it right now. (I *will* make sure we're not spending so much that we can't pay off our credit card each month, but I'm not going to actively try to cut back further.)

Also, I'm going to go ahead and hire someone to clean our house twice a month, even if it means that we are saving a little bit less. And I'm not going to feel bad about it. I'm just going to feel grateful that we have the means to do it.

Gardening help?

March 22nd, 2015 at 05:44 pm

I would like to help my DS1 grow a couple of plants this summer. He was very interested in the seed packets last time we were at the hardware store, and I think he'd enjoy growing a few things -- planting, watering, hopefully harvesting. He has expressed an interest in growing carrots because he saw Curious George do this.

Anyway, my DH and I are lacking thumbs in any shades of green. Also, I have no idea of the quality of the soil around our house. Ideally, I'd like to grow a couple of things in big pots, so I can use new soil and move them around depending on sun and possibly move them to the neighbors while we are on traveling this summer.

Is this even possible? I know there are some expert gardeners on this site. Do you have any suggestions on something that would be easy to grow in a pot and enjoyable for a three-year-old to "tend"? Eventually, we might be up for putting in some raised beds and having a bigger garden, but for now I'll consider it a success if we can keep one plant alive all summer. Smile

Any advice would be appreciated!

Subscribe and Save?

March 20th, 2015 at 09:15 am

Has anyone here ever used Amazon's "Subscribe and Save" service? Any comments or advice?

I've decided to give it a try. With Amazon Mom (come on, Jeff Bezos -- dads buy diapers, too!) , I can get 20% off of diapers if I subscribe. And with 5 or more items coming a month, I can save 15% on the rest.

I've always resisted in the past for two reasons: (1) by the time I'm on Amazon to buy something it means I need it ASAP and don't want to wait for my subscription delivery day and (2) I have a hard time estimating how long an item will last before needing to be replaced. But it seems like it's pretty easy to see what's in your upcoming order and adjust if necessary. And I feel like I might be better able to plan ahead this way.

So far I am only subscribed to things I would buy on Amazon anyway -- diapers, wipes, shampoo, etc. I will check the price of other household items and personal care items at Target next time I'm there, to see if they would be comparable or cheaper with the 15% discount. It would be nice to have these things just show up at my door instead of schlepping them home along with two small children.

Odds and Ends

March 19th, 2015 at 10:16 am

I filed our taxes today. We are getting $3306 back ($2156 federal, $1150 state). Once it comes, I will send it to the Emergency Fund. After that, we'll only need $145 to meet our goal of adding 5K this year.

We spent $175.27 from the home improvement fund last weekend. We bought two new lamps and a bunch of LED lightbulbs. The lamps have already brightened up our space, and the lightbulbs will hopefully lower our electric bill. Plus, it will be nice not to worry about having to change them for a LONG time. Eventually, I'd also like to replace all the bulbs in our recessed lighting with LED ones, but I will wait until they start burning out before doing that.

I checked in with our March spending so far. A couple of categories are already higher than I'd like, so I hope to spend nothing more in these categories -- leisure (entertainment) and clothing. Overall, my goal is to keep the variable spending under $3000 for the month of March. I'm pretty sure we can do it, and it would be a substantial improvement over January/February.

I had a nice lunch with DH today, and we spent much of it talking about our finances and our financial goals. I handle (by my choice) all of the finances in our household, although I check in with DH as to how we're doing periodically. So it was nice to talk more concretely about our current financial picture.

DH really doesn't know (or care) about the details, just the big picture. Today I had to explain to him how a flexible spending account works. Smile But, I think it would be a good idea for him to know more than he does, so I'm going to try to check in with him more often. And I need to update our account list so he can access everything if necessary.

February spending

March 18th, 2015 at 12:00 pm

We're more than halfway through March, but since tracking my variable spending was one of my goals, I still want to post the results from February.

Automobile $103.45 (Jan: $63)
-- Gasoline $66.95 (Jan: $44)
-- Parking $36.50 (Jan: $19)
Cash $80.00 (Jan: $40)
Clothing $591.70 (Jan: $167)
Food $1576.83 (Jan: $1681)
-- Alcohol $50.69 (Jan: $0)
-- Groceries $986.08 (Jan: $1051)
-- Dining out $540.06 (Jan: $630)
Gifts $0 (Jan: $14)
Household $160.51 (Jan: $393)
Leisure $353.30 (Jan: $74)
Miscellaneous $225.44 (Jan: $111)
Personal care $207.92 (Jan: $807)
-------------------------------------
Total $3299.15 (Jan: $3350)

Overall, not much better than January. We spent less in some categories, but then just turned around and spent more in others. Personal care was much lower this month, but clothing and leisure were quite high.

I would like to be able to hire someone to come and clean our house twice a month, but to do that I will need to make room in the budget. I refuse to decrease the money that is going towards savings or draw from the Opportunity Fund money. So we will have to do better. It feels like March is going well so far, but I won't really know until I see the numbers. I thought February was going well, too!

Maybe I will check in with the March spending this week, at just over the half-way point for the month. Then, if it looks bad, we can still make adjustments by the end of the month.

Long time no see

March 17th, 2015 at 11:27 am

It's been almost a month since I've last posted -- wow! We were hit by a bunch of things all at once, and I just didn't have the energy to write anything. A close family friend was dealing with some serious medical issues (still not sure exactly what's going on!) and DS2, who had been sleeping pretty well at night, decided to start waking up every 2 hours again (google "four month sleep regression"). But I haven't given up on my blog!

I did tally all of our spending in February. Still not pretty. I'll detail in another post. We had two paydays come and go, with additions to all of our various funds, so I've updated the sidebar. I still need to file our taxes; I think it's all done, but I need to double-check one number before I'm comfortable submitting it. Hope to do that this week.

The big news is that DH got his royalty payment for the last quarter of 2014. After setting aside money for taxes, it ended up being $12,268, so our Opportunity Fund is up to $13,454. More than a quarter of the way to our goal!

Winter gear costs

February 24th, 2015 at 10:51 am

Neither DH and I are really big winter sport enthusiasts. We both used to have some ski gear, but after packing and moving it over and over again without ever using it, I finally got rid of it during one of our recent moves. (We have moved a LOT over the years.) Our winter clothing is more geared towards walking around a city in winter -- jackets, scarves, hats, non-athletic gloves.

Fast forward to now...we are still not winter sport enthusiasts, but we have a three-year-old who LOVES to go sledding and play in the snow. He gets snow pants and boots every year because of this, but we've just been using double layers of sweatpants and running shoes over plastic bags for ourselves.

We finally decided to upgrade. So we went to REI last weekend to take advantage of the end of their big sale. DH got some ski pants at 30% of the original price (they are bright green Smile ) and some boots, and we both got good quality hats and gloves that are actually waterproof. I will probably eventually buy ski pants and boots as well, but with a three-month old in the house, DH has been the primary snow playmate this year.

It was not inexpensive, but I feel like any snow gear we buy now will last us for years and years.

Do you have a payday routine?

February 19th, 2015 at 07:09 pm

I'm curious how other people manage their paychecks on payday. I have a routine which seems simple and straightforward to me, but other people might find overly complicated.

DH and I get paid on the same day, twice a month. Retirement contributions are already taken out of our checks pre-tax, so we never "see" that money. With the money that is direct deposited into our checking account I do the following:

(1) Transfer a set amount into our online checking account with is designated for fixed expenses. All regularly occurring bills get paid out of this account, such as the mortgage, utilities, memberships, insurance, childcare, etc. The amount that gets transferred is roughly 1/24 of what we spent on all these things in the previous year.

(2) Transfer a set amount into an educational account for the kids.

(3) Transfer set amounts into separate "short-term" savings accounts for car repairs, vacation, charitable donations, home repair/improvements, and health care. I pull from these accounts whenever we spend money on one of these things, but they all get something added each payday.

(4) Pay off the current balances on the credit cards (DH's, mine, Target), which contain all of our variable spending.

(5) If there's anything left over, it gets swept to one of our savings goals.

I have it set up so I can do this all in 15 minutes from my smartphone while laying in bed on payday morning.

Anyone else care to share their payday routine?

Very cold

February 18th, 2015 at 05:49 pm

It is bitterly cold outside right now, and it's just supposed to get colder. I am so grateful right now for shelter and heat and the ability to pay my gas and electric bills.

I just went online and made a donation to our local fuel fund. Nobody should have to worry about paying their heating bill when it's this cold outside.

Stay warm, everyone!

A few things

February 17th, 2015 at 06:54 pm

(1) I forgot to mention yesterday that I broke my phone. Frown I kneeled on it in the middle of the night while climbing into bed and I guess the pressure ruined the screen. It would have been a pricy fix. Luckily, we still had DH's old phone (same type as mine) from when he upgraded for Christmas. After a quick stop at the mall store, they switched the sim cards and now I have an identical working phone again.

(2) Cashed out $28.56 in Chase rewards. The home improvement fund is now up to $2827.87. I hope to start spending some of it here pretty soon. First up are some plumbing repairs/upgrades we've been waiting on.

(3) We did end up having a snow day today, so we didn't have childcare. DH needed to be into work today for an event, including a work dinner out. I had more flexibility in my schedule, so I have been home with the boys all day. I am exhausted, but both boys are asleep and DH is bringing me dessert from his dinner. Since they are going to a fancy place, I expect it'll be pretty good! Smile

(4) Now I'm going to update our variable spending in my Money program to see how it's going so far this month. Fingers crossed! I feel like we're spending less than last month, but my feelings aren't a reliable barometer for the amount of money spent!

Did anyone else have a snow day today?

Updates

February 16th, 2015 at 11:47 am

Friday was payday. Added $200 to the education investments and $254.54 to the home improvement fund. Also paid all if the credit cards down to $0. I like to start fresh after payday!

For Valentine's Day we had a low-key celebration without gifts. We had spaghetti bolognese with garlic bread and salad, followed by brownie sundaes for dessert. DS1 was very excited about the sundaes, since we don't usually have dessert. We talked about how Valentine's Day is a day where we tell people we love them, and then all during dinner DS1 would say, "I love you, Mom!" or "I love you, Dad!" and we would say "I love you!" back. It was super cute. Also, we used up a can of tomatoes, some pasta, and a can of olives from the pantry. So that's good, too. Smile

We've got our meal plan for the week. Meals are pretty simple, so we should be able to keep to it. We kept to it last week and only had the one take-out night (pizza) as planned. We did order Indian food for delivery for lunch yesterday. Since we didn't have breakfast out with friends like usual, I think it's okay. It was delicious, but DS2 had some tummy troubles last night, so I think no more Indian food until I'm done breastfeeding. Bummer!

It's been bitterly cold here lately, and we're supposed to get some snow tonight. Hopefully tomorrow won't be a snow day -- too much to do! Can't wait until spring. Smile

This week's progress; thoughts about next week

February 12th, 2015 at 06:03 pm

We had another $25 reimbursement from DH's work, so I sent that to the home improvement fund. Sidebar updated. Smile

We don't have childcare tomorrow, so I will stay home with the boys. That means today was the end of my work week. (Although I will still be doing some work in the evenings.) How did I do with my goals?

I did take brownies and tea bags to work, so didn't buy any there. (I did buy hot water for the tea bags for 25 cents. I should probably cut that out, too.) I didn't take my lunch at all, but I did score free lunch on Wednesday for a work-related event. And it was delicious!

So not a perfect week, but not terrible. I'll try again next week. DH has already requested that I make a double batch of brownies this time so he can have some, too. Smile

We have stuck to our meal plan for dinners this week, too, and haven't eaten out at all. Since tomorrow is Friday, it's our scheduled night for pizza or takeout. And I might need it after a day with the boys. Smile

For next week's meal plan, I'm going to try to use up some of the things from the newly reorganized pantry shelves. Like use a bunch of the garbanzo beans to make chickpea patties. Maybe make a casserole with the egg noodles (don't even remember buying those, we rarely eat them!) I'll have to look more closely at what we have and see what I can put together. Might be fun!

If I'm stumped, I might post some ingredients here on my blog and see if you guys can give me recipes. Smile

Surprise check

February 10th, 2015 at 07:06 pm

I received a check in the mail for $25.04 from a settlement for a class-action suit against Sprint. I had no idea this was even happening? Can you be signed up for one of those automatically? Did anyone else get one?

Anyway, I will send it to the home repair/improvement fund. Sidebar updated!

I've also been on a decluttering/organizing kick lately. (Inspired by Creditcardfree's organizing blog, no doubt!) I am trying to do one task a night. Tonight I went through all of the paperwork/mail that had accumulated since the last time I'd done it. We pay all of our regular bills online, and I glance at each piece of mail as it comes in to be sure I'm not missing anything important, but I don't really deal with it until I have a bigger block of time. This time I made decisions about a lot of things, rather then sticking them in a pending pile to deal with later.

Dealing with all the paper led to cleaning out my coupon envelope and purging expired coupons. Which led to cleaning out my purse. Now all of my coupons are neatly sorted in my purse. Maybe I will remember to and be able to use them more often!

Progress!

February 9th, 2015 at 07:04 pm

Making progress on a lot of fronts.

(1) DS1 is starting to figure out potty training. We're not there yet, but definite progress. Staying in all weekend by the toilet was a huge step forward.

(2) I'm ready to implement my food at work plan. Brownies are cooling. (The ones DH and I didn't immediately eat, anyway Smile ) Tea bags are packed. At least my afternoon snack is covered!

(3) Meals are planned and groceries bought for the week.

(4) I cleaned and rearranged all my pantry shelves tonight, moving things around so I can actually see what we have. DH was very impressed, and then said, "Boy, we need to find a way to use up all of those garbanzo beans." Yeah, because when you can't see what you have you just buy more rather than looking for it. As a bonus, the new arrangement put our pots and pans in a much more convenient place. An all around win!

Feeling like it's a good start to the week. I'm tired, but I feel more in control. And I like feeling more in control.

No spend day!

February 7th, 2015 at 06:01 pm

No spending today. We didn't even leave the house, since we were tied to the potty for DS1. Not a lot of progress yet, but we are trying. Actually, DS2 and I did leave to go for a lovely walk (it was a balmy 45 degrees!), but no money was spent.

Tomorrow we will need to get groceries, so there will definitely be spending involved. But we will put together our meal plan in the morning, and we do pretty well keeping to our list at the grocery store. So at least it will be planned spending.

Toddler toilet troubles and February goals

February 6th, 2015 at 09:41 am

I know we're already a week into February, but I wanted to look at January spending before making goals. So these goals are really for the last three weeks of the month.

Indirectly related to February goals, we are working on potty-training DS1 (he's three). He is definitely interested in wearing underwear but not so interested in using the toilet. But we are working on it. However, he is VERY interested in flushing things down the toilet right now. He showed absolutely no interest before, so we haven't done anything to child-proof the toilets. But now I think we will have to lock the toilet bowls or something. This morning he tried to flush his brother's baby monitor. Thankfully it was too big to fit down!

On to my February goals:

(1) Potty train DS1. Cautiously optimistic we can meet this goal. Would love to lower our diaper costs!

(2) Stick to a dinner meal plan, allowing for one night of take-out/pizza a week. From tracking our variable spending last month, eating out seemed to be a big expense that we should be able to address. As suggested by many of you, we are going to try to stick to pretty simple food for dinner. Sandwiches, fruit, and veggies, for example. The bonus is that this is the food our toddler prefers to eat anyway, so fewer dinnertime battles!

(3) Spend less on food at work. I'm not going to try to cut all my lunch/coffee spending, but I can definitely do better. For starters, I am going to make brownies this weekend and freeze them in individual servings. I'll also take my own teabags to work. That will save me my daily $3.50 afternoon snack each day. (Yes, I have a tea and a brownie every day at work. We're averaging 4-5 hours of sleep a night right now, and this gets me through the afternoon. Not a good long-term solution, but right now it is about survival.) I'll also try to pack lunch a couple of days each week.

I'll continue to track all our variable spending and report back at the end of the month.

Any good potty-training tips out there? Or suggestions for curing DS1 of his flushing obsession?

AMT

February 5th, 2015 at 09:08 am

I finished entering our information into TurboTax last night. (We are still waiting on a couple of donation receipts, so I'm not ready to file yet.) This year we are getting hit with the Alternative Minimum Tax for the first time. To the tune of $6063!

I know it is because of the extra income we received from DH's royalty checks. Thank goodness I thought this might happen, so I had them withhold extra from these payments. In fact, we're still going to get a refund this year. Between federal and state about $3500.

I am grateful for the extra income, and I don't have any problem paying taxes on it. What I don't like about the AMT is that they package it as an "extra" tax that you have to pay on top of your "regular" tax. By labeling it as extra, I can't help but think of what I *could* have done with that "extra" 6K.

Fund additions

February 4th, 2015 at 10:09 am

We got a check in the mail yesterday from my mom. She stayed with me and the boys while DH was away on business last week. She wanted to buy DS1 some new toys (she didn't see him at Christmas) and treat us all to dinner after DH came back but while she was still here. I put the toys on my RedCard and DH picked up and payed for dinner. I wasn't going to remind her, since she does so much for us by helping while DH is gone. But since she sent the check I promised I would cash it. So I'm sending $100 to the home improvement fund.

I'm also taking the extra $260 that's been sitting in our checking account since Christmas and sending it to the Opportunity fund. It was part of a Christmas gift from my parents, but we weren't really sure what to spend it on. And I don't like how it messes up our account balance (I like to keep my checking account at a nice round number; any excess annoys me; yes, I'm weird.) So now it's moved on!

Sidebar amounts are updated.

January recap: good news and bad news

February 3rd, 2015 at 11:37 am

The good news -- I met my mini goals for January. I kept to a list at Target, and I stayed away from Amazon Deals. The bad news -- see for yourself! Here's our variable spending for January. We *way* overspent what I had roughly budgeted. It's not pretty at all. But one of my goals was to track this and post it on here to hold myself accountable. So that's what I'm doing.

Let me premise this by saying that I would like to keep this variable spending under $2600 a month. If I can do that, then I have about $900 extra a month that is undesignated. We didn't have to borrow to cover this overspending. But, if I don't spend it then I can use it to cash-flow things like medical expenses, or send it to my different savings goals. This month, we basically used almost all of this "extra" on variable spending.

I guess this means there is a lot of room for improvement! It also means that maybe my $2600 isn't realistic for us right now? But I can definitely try to do better.

Here are the spending details. In a later post I will focus on my plan of attack for February.

Automobile $62.84
-- Gasoline $43.84
-- Parking $19

This is by far the least we've spent on gas lately because of the low prices. We filled up each car once.

Cash $40

DH withdrew this. Maybe lunches at work? We rarely use cash for anything.

Clothing $167.36

Underwear for our potty-training DS1. And for his dad Smile New pants for DS1, since his are all getting holes in the knees. And holes in the knees are COLD in winter. Two sleep sacks for DS2 in the next size up. He is growing like a weed.

Food $1680.81
-- Groceries $1051.10
-- Dining out $629.71

I usually budget $1000 for groceries, so we weren't too bad there. DH and I often buy lunch at work, and we plan to get take-out/delivery once a week for dinner. We also usually meet friends with kids for breakfast once on the weekend. We try to keep dining out to $400 a month. We went way over. Being tired with poor meal planning is to blame. Even with food in the fridge, we have been turning to take-out when we're tired. Not an excuse, but an explanation.

Gifts $13.72

Books for a baby shower gift.

Household $393.15

A new dual stroller to make it easier to wrangle both boys at the same time. Supplies to set up a pumping station for me in my office, since I'm not going near the community fridge for that. A bottle warmer (probably not a need.) Rest is household supplies like laundry detergent, dish soap, batteries, ice melt, etc.

Leisure $74.11

TV episodes of our favorite shows, movie rentals, a few Candy Crush in-app purchases while up with DS2 in the middle of the night. DH's subscription to Google Play Music.

Miscellaneous $110.58

Not really sure what this all us. Some of it is from a Target trip where I lost the receipt and so couldn't categorize the expenditures.

Personal care $807.06

Ok, this is huge! To be fair, $400 of it was for a new breast pump when I discovered the motor on my old one had gone kaput. A large chunk of the rest of it is diapers. I did stock up when Target was having a spend $100 get a $20 gift card offer. It also includes some toiletries. But probably mostly diapers. Boy do we need to get DS1 potty trained!

Total $3349.63

So, yes, we spent a lot of money this month. When I look at any one category, I don't feel like it's too unreasonable, but when I see the total I definitely do! If you're curious, here's what my rough budget looks like for these categories:

Automobile $130
-- Gas $100
-- Parking/tolls $30
Cash $20
Clothing $150
Food $1450
-- Alcohol $50
-- Groceries $1000
-- Dining out $400
Gifts $100
Household $300
Leisure $100
Miscellaneous $100
Personal Care $250
Total $2600

I'm open to thoughts and suggestions, although I'm slightly terrified to hear them. Please be nice. Please don't rant at me for spending $1000 on groceries. Although I'm not happy to be spending almost $3400 a month in these categories, I am comfortable with spending $2600 a month and still being able to meet our other financial goals.

Quick payday update

February 3rd, 2015 at 10:10 am

Friday was payday. I set another $200 to the education fund. I also sent another $200 to the home improvement fund. Since it's also the end of the month, all of our Capital One 360 accounts had their interest hit. This added a whopping $.98 for the home improvement fund, a minuscule $.50 to the opportunity fund (hey, it still counts!), and a respectable $18.66 to the emergency fund. I've updated the sidebar totals to reflect this.

Later today I will finish tallying our expenses for January and post all of the dirty details here. Not really looking forward to it Frown

Back to work

January 28th, 2015 at 06:44 pm

I am officially back at work this week after maternity leave. It is really tough to be away from my new little guy, and it's been an emotional week so far. I know he has good care while I'm working, but I miss him! Also, it's just hard to get back into the swing of the workweek.

On the financial front, we received our last reimbursement from our 2014 dependent care FSA. $1504, which I'm sending to the emergency fund. We're now up to $1512.42 of the $5K we hope to add this year. Can't wait for the tax return to bump this up some more!

A surprise

January 27th, 2015 at 12:07 pm

And not the good kind!

I have been diligently tracking all of our variable spending for the month of January. Well, today I took a peek at totals so far. We are spending *much* more than I thought, and we still have four days to go!

We'll still be able to pay the the CC balance in full, thankfully. But if we're going to meet our savings goals for the year, we're going to have to be more careful with spending in the future.

I'm glad I've committed to tracking things so that we can see what we actually spend instead of just getting a "feel" for what we're spending.

Quick update

January 23rd, 2015 at 07:21 pm

We had two direct deposits for work reimbursements credited to our checking account this week -- $14.99 and $399.00. Since I'd already paid off the credit card with these expenses, I transferred $413.99 to to the home repair/improvement fund. New total is $2193.75.

Have a great weekend everyone!

My credit history

January 20th, 2015 at 08:50 am

I thought I'd share a little bit more about myself: I didn't get my first credit card until I was 25.

My junior year in college, my parents added me as an authorized user to one of their credit cards. The reason was that I was going to spend a month abroad for school, and I thought it would be easier/safer to be able to use a credit card for purchases rather than trying to deal with traveler's checks. My parents agreed after I promised to pay back everything I spent on the card.

After I got back from the trip, my parents said I could stay on the card as long as I continued to pay off my purchases. I think it made them feel better knowing I had a credit card in my wallet just in case. I still mostly used cash for purchases, but every month my mom would forward me a copy of their credit card statement will my purchases highlighted, and I would send them a check. So I guess I had a credit card from the Bank of Mom and Dad.

When I graduated from college, I planned to buy my first car. I had enough money saved so that I could pay cash for the car, but I decided to finance a small portion of it to help build my credit. But I was denied a loan because of my lack of credit history. My dad agreed to co-sign the loan for me (again, so I could build my credit), but then we found out that he would have had to have his name on the car title. Which meant he could have been liable if I were to get in an accident. So instead I paid cash for the car.

A few years later, in graduate school, I tried to apply for a student credit card. My application was denied, again because I had no credit history.

Finally, one day I was depositing my paycheck at the bank, and the teller asked me if I would like to apply for a credit card. I told her that I would probably be denied, but she said there was a note in my account that I was pre-approved. And that's how I got my first credit card.

Update and chosen non-financial goal for 2015

January 17th, 2015 at 06:16 pm

Not much time to update with two small boys running around. Well, one running around and the other being carried around! Any downtime in the evening and I want to sleep instead of update this blog. I just keep telling myself that eventually the sleep will happen again. So far I am staying on track with my January goals. No unplanned spending at Target, and I haven't checked Amazon deals even once!

I did take advantage of the $25 gift card for spending $100 on baby products (diapers, wipes, etc) at Target to stock up on diapers. It was too good of a deal to pass up! I'm not sure how long DS2 will be wearing size 1 diapers yet (he seems bigger every day!), so I bought mostly larger sizes that I can tuck away until later. I didn't want to be stuck with a ton of diapers that were too small.

I'm also tracking our discretionary spending so far, but I haven't really looked closely at the numbers yet. I wonder if I will be surprised at the end of the month?

On the will front, I have chosen a local law firm and plan call them next week about a consultation.

Payday was Thursday, and I added $200 to the home improvement/ fund and $200 to the education fund. We also received credit card rewards in the amounts of $58.54 and $206.52 (including bonus offer), so those will be added to the home improvement fund as well, bringing this fund to $1779.76.

I think I have decided that my non-financial goal for 2015 will be to take care of MYSELF. Included it that will be mini-goals to lose the pregnancy weight, update my wardrobe, etc. I'll flesh these out more in a later post. Some of these mini-goals might require some spending, but I will try to be careful and keep it within our monthly budget.


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