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Archive for February, 2007

Budget misgivings

February 20th, 2007 at 11:23 pm

I was having serious reservations this past weekend about the practicalness (is that a word?) of my spending plan. Perhaps I was just bored silly and wanting to shop and spend some money. I didn't though but had some serious reservations about whether or not I was being too anal with the plan. I have pretty much every dollar spent on paper with some left over in the 'slush fund'.

Right now I am feeling like I want to buy something for myself but don't have enough of a balance in my account to do so. I already had to re-allocate some budgeted amts to allow for some unexpected expenses that came up. Being disciplined with my spending plan is really hard.

DH and I went cell phone shopping this past weekend. Much to my dismay there are no more free cell phones with a contract extension. I could get new phones if I went to another provider and signed up with them. Problem is, our monthly plan is so old and so cheap it isn't even offered anymore and no other carrier can compete. So I'm stuck with Cingular and will have to buy a phone.

I ate lunch at home prior to going cell phone shopping. DH got hungry and went and got a soda and snack. Fine. He has a little bit of money in his personal spending account, but if he keeps getting these little snacks here and there he will have no money to spend on other things, like stuff for our Cabo trip in June.

I hate to tell him he doesn't have any money left in "his account" when he is the primary breadwinner in our family.

We have the cash, it's just allocated to other accounts. I think this Friday I am going to withdraw cash for him and tell him to make it last until next payday.

Oh, and he spent the $21 dollars we won on lottery scratchers on more lotto tickets. UGH!!!

I did manage to save ~$200/annually by switching home and auto insurance carriers. Not only that, but I can pay my premiums with my MasterCard and accumulate miles.

So glad I did it as it helps monthly cashflow just a bit.

My Financial Snapshot

February 17th, 2007 at 12:20 am

After reading some personal finance blogs this week I came across one where the user had ALL financial info in Quicken, not just checking and savings info.

Since I use Quicken, I decided to do the same.

I entered my IRA, DH's IRA and my 401k. I also entered our car loan, DH's truck (no loan on it), and our mortgage.

I have about $7,200 in cash sitting in my IRA that I need to invest in something. Not sure what at this point so I have some homework to do. We also need to sign DH up for his 401k at work. We have the paperwork, we've just never got around to actually completing it.

I'm glad I did this. It didn't take long and having everything listed together in one place will keep me on top of things.

Insurance... grr!

February 16th, 2007 at 04:02 am

One of my goals this week was to get some insurance quotes for homeowners and auto. I currently have Allstate, been with them forever, but in CA Allstate has filed for a significant rate increase while all the other major insurers have filed for significant rate decreases.

My homeowners renews 3/1. I got notice of the new premium today... its 5% higher than last year and I have never filed a claim.

I called two different ins cos. today and got one quote back. Wouldn't you know it, it's more than my exisitng. But their quote doesn't include the auto rate decrease effective in March nor the h/o rate decrease effective in April, so the agent will call me back with hopefully better numbers next month.

I have multi-policy, good driver, distinguished driver and renewal discounts with Allstate. I hope that the other ins cos. can beat my existing premiums even with all my discounts.

Farmers Ins. is still working on my quote. I'm more hopeful with them as they are the ones with the largest rate decreases.

Hopefully I can find lower premiums as I'm trying to find ways to cut our expenses.

I Had Shoppers Restraint Today!

February 14th, 2007 at 11:39 pm

I went to Mervyn's to pay a bill off today. While standing in line to pay, next to the shoe dept no less, I looked around from my vantage point and saw some shoes I wouldn't mind owning.

I slowly made my way through the line to the cashier and paid off a $70 bill.

I couldn't leave without looking (dangerous I know) but I did look and I DID NOT buy, even though I saw 2 pairs of shoes and some things for our upcoming vacation to Cabo San Lucas.

I think I need to rework my spending plan to allow for some purchases before our trip in June.

I Bit the Bullet

February 13th, 2007 at 11:32 pm

and applied and got a mileage CC today. I asked how many times I could make pymts online and was told as many as I wanted. I confirmed that I wanted to make weekly pymts and was told that was acceptable.

So, I hope to start racking up the miles to use for a future vacation. Hopefully taking the kids to Hawaii in a few years.

I'm a little nervous about charging everything to it but fully intend to pay off balances weekly. I cannot handle the stress of CC debt.

My plan is that everytime I use the card I will enter the transaction in Quicken and my spending plan spreadsheet. Doing it this way will reduce my available cash for the week, thereby keeping me in check from overspending.

Extra Paychecks This Year

February 12th, 2007 at 06:57 pm

I know it's only February, but I'm starting to think ahead to June when DH will get one of two 'extra' paychecks this year.

Our spending plan is based on 24 paychecks per year however DH receives 26 paychecks.

So what to do with this extra paycheck in June...

pay down the credit line
pay off the Visa
put it in our emerg fund
use part of it for Christmas gifts instead of saving every pay period towards them
vacation (instead of saving incrementally as above)

I want to do the best thing financially for us.

Paying off debt is of course important.

Freeing up some cash every pay period (by stopping the incremental holiday/vacation/or other incremental savings) would also relieve some of the financial pinch we feel after bills have been paid.

Our Lottery Windfall and Some Savings Thoughts

February 11th, 2007 at 11:32 pm

Well sort of a windfall.

I don't buy lottery tickets but have received them as gifts. After accumulating some winners for a while, we redeemed them today and brought home $21. DH wants to use it for the big powerball type lottery that the state of CA participates in, but I think we will just keep the money for our leisure, kinda like some funny money, and use for diet cokes, snacks, etc when we are out and about. Shh, don't tell DH that Smile

I was reading a column from the Wall Street Journal that our local paper publishes regarding finding little ways to save money.

The author talked about how everytime he wrote a check, he rounded up the amount to the nearest dollar and entered that number into his check register. I understand the concept but doesn't that make reconciling nearly impossible? He has a nice cushion in his account as he has been doing it for awhile, but the thought of reconciling that gives me a headache.

He also mentioned something that I do, on the occasion that we use our CC instead of debit card. He said every time you charge on your CC to move the money out of checking so that you have the cash available to pay the bill in full.

It's nice to have some of your own practices validated by someone else.

I'm supposed to be middle class but...

February 11th, 2007 at 03:20 am

I'm not feeling like it.

I've created a new spending plan, talked about it with DH, and so far we are adhering to it, but why does it feel like I have a ball and chain attached to me?

Our combined income is ~$100K but why, when my daughter asks if we can get donuts for breakfast tomorrow, do I worry about where in my budget I will put that expense... is it a dining out expense or a grocery expense?

It shouldn't even matter but it does to me.

Since I have started using this new spending plan spreadsheet I feel like I am a prisoner of our money. Maybe it's the newness of this spending plan as all others never seemed to work, in whatever form they took. This one is keeping us pretty honest but I guess I have to wait until the balances in my personal spending account builds up to a level where I can actually buy something for myself without feeling guilty.

We live a middle class lifestyle. We are not heavily in credit card debt ($600 CC bal) but we do have a mortgage, $3,000 balance on our equity credit line, car payment and tuition to pay for.

I intend to pay off the credit line and CC this June with DH's extra paycheck.

I save every pay period for Christmas/birthday gifts, sports registration fees, property taxes, car repair fund, vacation and more.

I feel like we are doing the right things, making better decisions about how we spend our money but it seems we can never break free of the ball and chain.