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Archive for December, 2007

Goal for Jan 08 - On My Way

December 31st, 2007 at 12:32 pm

Living in the land of plenty (looking around house seeing all of the stuff added to what we already have - and it was reasonable this year compared to last few years of excess), I have put a ban on all spending (except for gas/groceries) for January in order to:

GOAL Pay off HELOC - Balance $4,900

I did mention the Vanguard mid-cap with $4,044 (presently) and I SOLD all shares to apply to the debt. I had $15,268 in the Vanguard Federal Money Market and I sold $268 shares -

Balance roughly $600 -
Looking at the budget for January, with minimal spending and realistic utility estimates, I should have $1,100 to apply to this and will then apply remainder to AmEx Blue ($9,900).

After that will then have to decide what %s for upcoming expenses and debt reduction!

HAPPY 2008!

First $20 challenge addition - READY, SET, GO $20 ChALLENGE $

December 31st, 2007 at 09:59 am

I'm new to the forum and the $20 challenge - today I added to my E*Trade savings account $23.47 to start off (I might give myself 08 credit for these):

$5 for the five gallons of milk from walmart
$18.47 manufacturers' coupons applied to my grocery purchase yesterday. I will not give myself credit for store card discounts as I'm tally only my efforts.

Not sure what is a realistic goal for total accumulation in this accout for the year. I will include rebates and all purchase related savings (like 40% and 50% off of Michael's and Hobby Lobby, etc. plus the occasional $10 at pennys, etc.)

Looking for encouragement as I begin!

1st $20 Challenge Money

December 30th, 2007 at 06:35 pm

Well, went to walmart and got 5 gallons of milk, $2.45 each (compared to $3.49 that DH has paid for the last two gallons at CVS) If I continue this trend, it will be about $350 in Challenge Money as we go through a gallon of milk a day (large family).

I'm starting my $20 challenge money with this $5 as it is easy money to add and might incent me to go to Walmart on a more regular basis.

I have no goal for how much $ I'd like to gain this year, but this is a start!

Spending Record - 12/29/07

December 30th, 2007 at 11:37 am

DH filled up his gas tank for $44.00 (hopefully will last two weeks - maybe, but doubtful)

Another quick trip to CVS for $11.00 (another $3.49 gallon of milk (OUCH- haven't learned much from post two days ago, Sunday paper (only PG coupons today), and paper towels).

Have to head to grocery store today so will include that in tomorrow's post.

Spending Record for 12/28/2007 - Is Guilt Normal?

December 29th, 2007 at 11:42 am

Thought it might be a No Spender, but didn't work out that way.

$141.50 to vet for dog's ear infection ($41.50 office visit, $100 meds and some culture thing). As much as a baby! We did get discounted shots at the pet clinic offered through a pet store chain earlier in the month. Can't cut corners in some areas!

Had an outing the mall with my older daughters. they spent judiciously at Claire's for earings with their own money

I did Christmas 08 shopping (all cash): $15 for two gifts, $8 for ornaments, $5 for cards (similar to the ones I liked at the Met online store) $3.50 wrapping paper, and $9.99 DVD that I didn't buy on Amazon.com.

Since I'm being responsible and accountable, I'm having some guilt with spending. Is this normal? I've always suffered with an all or nothing mentality and it has caused some unrealistic expectatinos in the past ...

Some Positive Changes

December 28th, 2007 at 01:45 pm

Thank you for the advice from my previous post on my Debt Load -

I have followed the advice of Broken Arrow and put DH's 401(k) to 6% which is what company matches up to. I've set up the additional 4% for my Vanguard IRAs(twice a month automated) -- still reducing taxable income.

As far as HELOC, once the mid-cap fund (which is taxable) goes up, I will use that to significantly pay down that debt. Once it is paid off, it is potential EF.

With the money in the checking account (from 12/28 paycheck and Christmas money), I am going to pay the insurance premium on car ($212 for a collector car), put new tires on DH's daily driver, make additional payments to HELOC and AmEx(3.99% for life of loan), I also plan on using the money to pay the January bills due prior to the 1/11 paycheck and do one big shopping trip to Sam's Club. That will then help start 2008 with a plan -

I will also use $100 of that to start a Health Savings Account, of which I will be directing $200/month because we have set up a High Dedectible Insurance Plan (I used the balance of our Flex Spend account to get all kids to the dentist, plus took DD to the pediatric pulmonologist, had her allergy testing via blood work done, and got her 3 months RX for asthma filled through Medco. So I will have a small amount of money left to stock up on cold medication, etc.

All in all, I'm feeling smarter with these few steps.

Happy 2008, new friends!

Spending Record 12-27-07

December 28th, 2007 at 08:48 am

I think that I need to start small as post daily spending as some of my newly-acquired fellow bloggers do:

Spending for 12-27-07

DH took lunch to work.

$3.59 spent for a gallon of milk - ouch!

Dinner at my parents.

It is snowing here the Midwest, so might be a no spender here today!

My Debt Load

December 27th, 2007 at 11:03 am

I see that a lot of people are candid about the debt load, and to sugar-coat it is like sticking one's head in the sand.

We started 07 with no credit card debt. As 08 starts this is where the household stands:

AmEx $9,806.00 at 3.99% min payment $197

HELOC $4,800 (est) at 8% min payment $56

The debt stems from the high cost of COBRA insurance while DH was unemployed, real estate taxes which are high in our area, parochial school tuition - though it is discounted because of our annual income/number of children).

We have a moeny market account with Vanguard with $15,000 (our "savings" account which was the leftover severence and a gift from my grandparents). It is making around 5%. Our retirement funds at Vanuard and 401(k) are about $100,000 and educatin is about $20,000. There is roughly $5000 in a mid-cap fund at Vanguard that I am contemplating selling to pay off the HELOC.

My challenge is to tackle the debt, WHILE saving up the upcoming expenses for 08. I know that I will probably need to take from the savings to offset the deficit.

Psychologically, I can't spend the $15,000 as that is our safety net. I have seen too many of my friends/family live paycheck to paycheck and then be really screwed without money. We are one payment ahead on our mortgage (Not prepayment) so if things were really bad then we would have two months to come up with the mortgage payment.

Any ideas on things? Oh and yes, we are in our late thirties and contribute 10% to DH's 401(k) (matched up to 3% I think)

What's the $20 Challenge?

December 27th, 2007 at 07:52 am

Thanks to all who welcomed me - just the motivation I need ...

I saw IMA mention the $20 Challenge. What is this? I'm very interested, and a challenge might spur me on ..

New to the Forum

December 26th, 2007 at 08:06 pm

Hello, I suppose that I am one of the many new members to join during this
Let's Make Some Resolutions time of year. I am the money manager for the family, and while I feel that we are doing some things right, I feel that with a clear game plan (aka concrete goals) and some personal accountability (support of fellow forum members) I could be doing a better job of things.

My biggest accomplisments for the past month:
(1) just upped my husband's 401k to 10% (up from 6%)
(2) paid cash for all Christmas gifts (though I didn't budget monthly throughout the year and my goal for the savings account was short as a result)
(3) diligently tracked all expenses in DEC for an idea of where the money goes to come up with some realistic budget guidelines

Areas I would like to improve:
(1) more diligent saving for education for the children
(2) better money management in the grocery/menu dept.
(3) limit the impulse buys (even though they are small and usually at consigment/resale stores) because they just usually end up as wasted/unused items.

well, this is a start! Happy New Year to all - hoping to see improvements!