Thursday, March 25, 2010

Another Tweak...

Well, our spending was a little out of control for March. I did a few budget tweaks on paper and decided that as long as $950 of each paycheck was deposited in to the checking account there would be no reason to not have enough to cover the entire spending plan. So today that's exactly what I did, I deposited $950 and kept the extra $11.23...well I kept $11.00, #3 asked for the $0.23 to add to her March for Babies fundraiser for next year that she has decided to make an ongoing project.

This year our team placed second overall at the Grand Forks, ND event with one of our youngest members being awarded with the Top Youth Award. As it was my #4 who received this honor, #3 has decided next year it's all hers!! Should be an interesting season of raising funds next year with the three of us! It's pretty hard for people to say no to a five year old asking for money "For the March of Dimes and Babies because they helped #5 be healthy."

Anyway...back to my original reason for this post; changing how much money is deposited each pay day. We have not yet figured out the discipline part of sticking exactly to the budget, even if we have a few extra dollars. The extra money is supposed to go to the baby emergency fund and then when that reaches $1000 (again) then the excess should be gong to the debt snowball. So now, the money is going to be put in to an envelope and put in a drawer for now until it reaches a significant sum (whatever I decide significant means).

Hubby has what is considered an irregular income because he's paid per mile plus a fixed dollar amount for every stop he makes to load or unload freight. At $1900/month we have everything covered except for placing money in an account for annual expenses such as property taxes and insurance. Fortunately our insurance is less than $600/year and is due in July. He has three paychecks in July so that will cover that expense. For property taxes my plan for right now is to focus on the baby emergency fund and that should be built enough by May to pay the first half of our taxes and to repeat the process for the second half due in October. Eventually I would like to pay our auto insurance annually as well. One less payment every month is fine by me!

Our student loans are another cause of concern for me. We owe crazy amounts to student loan companies. I don't even have them listed in our debt snowball yet because they cause me to lose all hope of ever getting things paid off! We probably owe as much on student loan debt as we do on our home! They are all in deferment currently but that can't last forever...can it??

Monday, March 22, 2010

Starting to see some progress

I had trouble knowing I have $1000 sitting in a bank account knowing we are paying almost 30% interest on one of Hubby's credit cards. I know I whined and cried about the security of the cash, but the number did me in. I paid off two credit cards with the mini emergency fund. I've heard that money management is 20% brain and 80% emotion...well my emotions are well withing the normal limits on this one!

Now I feel like I've made progress. I actually have two less payments to worry about every month. They weren't big payments, and with the snowball method our monthly expenses do not change, the minimum payments that were being paid to the cards I paid off will now to go the next debt in line.  The longest it will take to be finished our debt snowball is next February and I can't wait...patience has never been a strong suit of mine!

The budget is working as good as can be expected. I still have trouble taking out a personal allowance. For some reason I just can't justify it! Hubby gets his allotment, the kids get what's the problem? Maybe if I saw the money piling up I would spend it, but I doubt it. I told Hubby yesterday that things like paying off debt were more important than taking personal spending cash. There is always somewhere else in the budget that could use the $50/bi-weekly more than I need it (or want) it!

The options with $1300 each year are nearly endless in my mind!
  • Pay down debt
  • Give to our church
  • Donate to charity
  • Quarterly weekend family getaways
  • Save for a real vacation
Maybe endless isn't the right word, but the ideas are raging just thinking about it!

I've been giving serious thought and prayer towards tithing to our church. Another quote I've heard, though I don't know who to give the credit is, if 10% can break you, your problems are deeper than you think. I know there have been months that we could be drowned by 10%, it has become obvious to me that God has given us more than 10% could ever make up for.

There is no price on salvation, God forgives all our sins and teaches us to forgive those who have sinned against us. When my days are done, it will not matter if I gave 10% or $0.10. What will matter is my willingness to learn His word and to live my life as God has planned.

There are some days where it is harder to forgive myself than it is to forgive those who have sinned against me. I have come to a point in my life where I believe God's plan for me is already in place and I am just 'along for the ride.'

This Sunday after Church #4 came and told me he wanted to go see Faith. We walked over to where she sleeps eternal and he talked to her as if she was sitting with us! How very touching to see a five year old believe in life everlasting.

While we visited and he 'decorated' (picking rocks off the road to place on her grave) I began to put more thought into the memorial stone I want placed. The ones I've seen with an angel standing in a hugging motion against the stone is the one that I like best. It's probably close to a $1000 saying it out loud makes it seem almost not a good idea! Think of the difference we could make with $1000. We could give a sizable donation to our church or the March of Dimes that would mean so much to Hubby and I. Guess I'll have to put some serious thought and prayer into this one!

Hugs and Love,

Monday, March 8, 2010

February 2010 Autopsy

Looking back it's easy for me to feel like I actually accomplished something good in February! Finances were finally put in order, debt is getting paid off, and an actual plan is in place!!

Total Income                                  $11,715.71
Total Spending                               $11,026.08   
Excess (deficit)                               $     689.63

After paying all monthly bills and a few 'extras' (licensing fees for the ATV, parts for the pickup, a little bit of blow money for each of us, etc) there was actually money still left over! The best part is that the amount left over is almost as much as a regular paycheck!

Popular thought would be to take that extra $689 and put it towards our debt snowball. Well, I would like to be popular but prefer security over popularity right now! I simply advanced those dollars to March and began paying those bills. I scheduled the 'new' payment amounts based on the debt snowball calculation done earlier. It's amazing how much of a psychological job it is to stick to a plan!

Payday is this week and almost everything is already taken care of. Will I increase the debt snowball now?? Probably not. I'm likely to build a small cushion on top of the Baby Emergency Fund of $1000 already sitting in an online bank. If I'm still ahead of the game in April, then the snowball will reap the rewards.

It's funny about making larger than minimum payments towards debt. The "buyers remorse" I feel after hitting the submit button to make the payment is almost always gone before the confirmation page even loads! I feel anxious just at the thought of 'maybe just this time we can charge ~whatever~and it'll be different. ' I still get thoughts of, "Yes, I need this now...and if I wanted to save $15/month for 10 months so I can pay with cash I could...but I don't have to wait 10 months." Amazing that a princess like me can actually delay gratification!

If this keeps up, we can have our debt paid off much sooner than we had planned. I believe in our common goal. I believe in our ability to work together. I believe we are wonderful Stewards of God's Word and He is good.