Monday, May 30, 2011

Pause to Remember

Like many others in the US today I will be enjoying a day off work spent with my family. But I want to ask you to take a moment of your time and remember the price that was paid for your freedom.








Thursday, May 12, 2011

Our Financial Status - Update #19 - April 2011

Sorry that this update for April has come a week late. If you didn’t notice, my blog suffered for a couple of weeks while life was hectic, so I’m just getting around to this. If this bores you to death, I totally understand. Just go enter my Cupcake Cuties giveaway and then come back tomorrow for hopefully something a bit more interesting.

INCOME:
Our income is still just one, but Chip is weeks away from getting fully re-enlisted in the National Guard again and should be off to OCS in June. That means a full time paycheck for 2 full months. Yippee! After the paycheck comes the officer commissioning bonus. Yippee! Hopefully we can continue to live off my paycheck for the most part and sent practically all of his to debt. That would be a wonderful change after basically just paying the minimums for several months.

UNDER BUDGET:
Auto parts/Service: $4 under budget. But since we had a bad month last month, the rolling budget is $63 over still. I’ll just leave it there though and hopefully that overage will roll out within the next few months.
Television: Under budget because I made the payment late into the month and it didn’t clear until May. It caused a lot of hassle that caused us to be disconnected and have to pay a service charge to reconnect. Ticked me off because the check was sent in time (our bank sends the check). I don’t know if it got lost in the mail or if they just didn’t cash it in time, but it is frustrating to no end!
Doctor: $25 under budget for the month, which means we spent $0 (the budget is equal to one co-pay a month – or $25/month). However, there is a rolling $50 right now. In the event we get through May with no doctor’s visit, this should roll out completely for June, which is when Abigail will be scheduled for her 2-year check up. Hooray for things working out!
Home services (pest control and E-mealz): $41 under budget. No service from either this month, so this will roll over.
Home Supplies: $5 under budget – nothing purchased outside of groceries.
Daycare: $130 under budget – which is one week’s tuition. We used Abigail’s vacation days and took off the week while Patrick was on spring break. It saved money and gave both kids some Daddy time before he leaves to do Army stuff this summer for a while.
Baby Supplies: $20 under budget this month which brings the rolling budget to $47 under budget. That’s awesome since we need some diapers right now, so I know there’s room in the budget.

ON BUDGET:
Auto Insurance: Of course. But like last month, we’re now only paying $45/month for both cars rather than $88/month as we previously did, so we’re still saving here! This reduction will save us $516 a year. =)
Mobile Phone: On budget.
Term Life Insurance: Yep
Alarm Monitoring: As expected
Mortgage/HOA: Nothing new here.

OVER BUDGET:
Gasoline: $56 over budget, which actually isn’t too bad considering how high gas prices are right now!
Electricity/Water: We were $63 over budget for the month and will a rolling overage, we are $146 over. Good news? That overage for April was a misread meter and May’s bill was only $21! That means this entire rolling overage should be eaten up and the average budget remain intact! I love it when my plans work out!
Eating Out: $67 over budget. We had some family outings (a Patrick-Mom date and a family trip to the zoo) that forced us to eat out a bit which tossed us over our budget. Had we planned better we would have made arrangements for this, but these were both kinda' last-minute plans, so it was a bit high. We'll hopefully do better next month.
Groceries: $161 over budget. Wow. This is actually surprising to me. I’ve been trying to get my etsy shop off the ground which has meant buying candy supplies and I think I had been keeping it separate better than this, but I don’ t know what else to attribute this to. Hopefully we can clean up this act in May!
Pharmacy: $15 over the month, and we’re $67 over in the rolling budget. I think I just have to suck it up and admit that I’m low-balling the budget in this category. Or maybe I should go back to seriously couponing and trying to knock these costs down lower!
Hair: $9 over budget. This was both guys needing a haircut together. And Chip’s tips heavily, which is not necessarily bad, but it is true and plays into our budget.
Toiletries: $4 over budget for the month which brings us to $6 over the rolling budget.
Clothing: $60 over budget. Chip needed some new running shoes for his Army training and running and since his were literally falling apart (the soles were detaching from the shoe) he got a nice new pair.

ADDITIONAL COMMENTS:
  • Miscellaneous Charges not in the Budget: $13 on a Mom-Patrick date that was money happily spent; $61 to take the kids to the zoo (plus some extra eating out money that accounted for some of the high eating out bills above) that was a great family excursion; $32 for a book to help Chip physically prepare for re-enlisting in the National Guard; $20 on Easter baskets (yep…that was the total for two whole Easter baskets FULL of goodies, so we did good); and $11 in photo printing under a great deal!
  • We used the credit card a few times when we needed get to the next paycheck. So we paid that off. And we paid above the minimum on the two we're paying off.
  • Etsy shop is underway. I am seeing profits, which is awesome, but so far I have mostly fed those profits back into the shop by promoting, buying more supplies to get more items into the shop, and buying supplies like shipping boxes that will hopefully cut down on my shipping costs (they are better fitted for my candy). So right now no real profit to speak of, but a growing business that actually is making sales!
  • April was an interesting month. It was ALMOST a 3-check month, so what I did was push out our mortgage payment to land into May and essentially allow me to see the extra paycheck in May. I will be using it mostly to replenish our safety net of a bloated emergency fund until Chip gets paid on a regular basis. I will use some of it to probably buy Patrick some new bedroom furniture, as he needs a real big boy bed and furniture now (he’s still in his toddler bed).


So that is it in a long, drawn-out giant nutshell (not really much of a nutshell, is it?.

The month of May will bring swim lessons, some extra driving (boo, hiss) and hopefully not too many other surprises.

How did you do in April?

Monday, May 9, 2011

Emotional Decision? Not This Time!

I think I made a smart decision.

Looking back, it seems like it was an obviously smart decision – on paper at least. But it was so hard to say no at the time.

Last Thursday night, a gentleman came by our house (Chip knew he was coming but had forgotten to tell me) to do some water testing and try to sell up a water filter system. He went through the chemistry of what he was selling. He tested our water and told us horror stories about the water we were consuming through ingestion as well as inhalation and absorption through our skin. It was enough to make you cringe.

And I’m not saying the guy was lying. Maybe he was, maybe he wasn’t. I know that if he was not lying, it gives me the heebie-jeebies to think that we live in the middle of the toxic mess that he was claiming we do. It’s enough to make you fear for what type of environment you are raising your children in.

And you know, now that I think about it, I’m not sure if his sales pitch was full of truth or fear. Maybe both.

I didn’t get to listen to the entire sales pitch because you know, there are children to bathe and put to bed and they were not interested in hearing this guy tell us about all of the chlorine we have living in the top three feet of each of the rooms in our house.

So I left the sales presentation and did mommy-type stuff. After the kids were in bed, Chip came upstairs and wanted me to sign the paperwork to finance this system. He had already signed his part. Luckily (I think), this was a joint venture because I wasn’t willing to sign it.

I tell myself it was a number of reasons that I didn’t sign it, but I’m not really sure what the real reason is.

First of all, I know us. I know that we have bought a timeshare after hearing a convincing sales pitch. I know we previously bought a vacation club package that we never used (and got out of) after hearing a convincing sales pitch. I know we have spent a lot of money in the past because we’re obviously gullible. Part of me doesn’t want to buy anything else in those conditions – even if it legitimate – because I am tired of realizing that I have been taken advantage of.

Secondly, I don’t like buying out of fear. Maybe I have every reason to be afraid for myself and my family (although I certainly hope not). Maybe this guy was not trying to use fear as a motivation to make us sign those papers. But I don’t like having that suggestion in the back of my mind that maybe I bought out of fear. Out of a “the sky is falling” mentality.

Thirdly, and what it the reasoning that I gave at the time, it was yet another bill to add to the mix when we don’t have it. You see, the system was $6000 paid over 72 months, which really came up to just over $8500 after what must have been an astronomical interest rate. The sales guy claimed that it would save us the money that we would be putting into it ($119/month) in electric and water bills (no time to go into the “hows” of it here) as well as in cleaning products. But I had no proof. Maybe it would. Maybe it wouldn’t. But in the end, without proof, I wasn’t willing to sign up for another bill. I told Chip that when we are out of debt we can re-examine when we can pay in cash and not pay 140% of the actual cost of the system due to interest rates.

But you know what was hard? Telling Chip “no.”

You see, I have a problem telling him no. I don’t know why. I feel like I am dictating to him what he can and cannot have when he wants something. I feel like I am treating him like a child. I feel like I am making decisions for him. I don’t like feeling like this (for the record, he says he doesn’t feel this way at all – it’s all obviously in my head).

Looking back, I think it was the right decision. But it was an emotionally tough decision to make all because I don’t like telling my husband “no.”

But somewhere inside, I'm proud of myself for telling him no. Because I believe it was the right thing although it wasn't the easy thing.

Have you ever felt this way? How did you cope with it?
 

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