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I'm baaaack!

March 31st, 2008 at 04:00 pm

After nearly a 1 year absence, I'm back!

It's been a hell of a year. Since I last posted in May '07, my mother has died, my aunt was diagnosed with MS, my other aunt had a heart attack, my grandmother almost died from pnemonia, my cousins both go to Northern IL where that shooting was (one of them was IN that room only an hour before the shooting! She's fine although she was shook up, of course).

My mother dieing put us further bhind in our debt repayment. Even though I'm a travel agent we had to spend a fortune in airfare going back and forth from Chicago to Phoenix, and it all had to go on the card. It set us back nearly a year in debt repayment. It was worth it, since I was able to see my mother before she died (it was very sudden) and spend time with my father after her passing. I dont regret spending a dime, but at the same time just frustrating to see all our progress wiped out in a matter of weeks.

The only truely GOOD thing that has happened is that I started to work from home mid June of last year. Our gas bill has droped by over half, between me not driving and my husband taking my car instead of the gas guzzler truck to work. It's actually cheaper for him to drive my car than take the train downtown, if you can believe that! And I"m saving money on lunch and clothes too, so that's another help.

Our tax "stimulus" check will be here next month, that will go to pay for our share of my husband's MRI's (bad knees and back, may need further treatment, thank God for health insurance!) so we can't bank it or put it towards debt. But May is an extra pay check month for us so I'm hoping to put it all towards the CC's, that will catch us up from the airfare we had to charge last fall. IF nothing goes wrong and I can put it towards our debt, we'll have our CC's paid off in about 20 months at our current rate.

I've given up on couponing at the grocery store. We basicly cook from scratch and the coupons are mainly for pre-packaged and processed foods, I found that even with the coupon savings, on average we spent the same amount on groceries and we were eating my processed foods rather than fresh. So I've given up on that. Really, at $100 or so a week for two, that's something like $2.40 per person per meal. That's pretty darn cheap, and we eat a lot of organics, too!

I love cooking from scratch. Husband's birthday was yesterday, I made rib-eye steak, grilled shrimp, sauteed mushrooms, and brussel sprouts (husband's fav veggie, go figure!) for $23 for the two of us. Sounds expensive, but think about what that same meal would have cost us if we'd eaten out? At least double (and we had a ton of shrimp, too, a lot more than what you're served at a restaurant). Home made birthday cake too. $1 mix and home made frosting (not sure what the frosting cost, I used baking supplies on hand. More than canned frosting I'm sure but SO much tastier!). No gift for husband,he didn't want anything, so I splurged on his birthday dinner instead.

Odds n' Ends

May 4th, 2007 at 06:28 pm

Things seem to be going better this week. DH got about $500 in overtime this paycheck, which certainly helps out a bunch! I've gotten serious about using coupons when I shop, in about 3 weeks I've saved about $50 by matching the lowest sale price with a coupon, I hope to do better as my suply of coupons increases. I'm getting my first reimbursemnet from my flex spend account, that will be $280 straight into savings. It's getting warmer outside, that means a lower gas bill. My car insurance droped because I'm having a birthday, and they also payed a dividend of $23, which was a nice surprise. And the best news of all, in just two more months I'll be working from home, which will be hundreds more in our pockets each month!

But then again, it's now May. May is almost worse than Christmas in my family. 4 birthdays, 1 wedding aniversary, and Mother's day, all in three weeks time. Poop! Then June is Father's day, and July we have two more birthdays, and I'm standing up in a friends wedding. Thank God, nothing happens in August!

And don't tell me to budget for gifts! I know that and we did have them budgeted, but the last two months we've had to drain our savings to almost nothing to cover car repairs, every spare dime had to go towards keeping us from having to add to our debt! So now the gifts will have to come straight out of our operating expenses each month. Maybe next year we can save ahead for presents...

But aside from just about everyone I know or am related to having a birthday/aniversary/wedding, things really are looking up. I just hope it stays that way for a while, we need some time to get our savings back to where it was.


April 24th, 2007 at 05:25 pm

I haven't posted in a long time, so I thought I'd update.

We haven't made much headway the last two months, between my car and DH's truck we've spent about $3500 in repairs since February. Nothing extra has gone towards the debt, and our emergency fund is down to about $400 (it was at $3k). And DH can't get any overtime right now, and most likely won't be able to get much until about June, so that's no help either. The good news is that we've been able to pay cash for everything, no new debt has been added. A small victory is better than none, I guess. But, now the cars should be in tip-top shape, so there should be no more car repairs for the rest of the year, just oil changes and new tires for DH's truck in the fall.

I just got fabulous news at work, they are letting my division work from home! That is going to be a huge savings for us. I will no longer have to drive to work ($100 in gas per month) no more work clothes ($600 a year or so), no more lunch at work ($80 a month), more time to cook at home (not sure what that will save in groceries/eating out but it will be something!) AND best of all, DH will be able to take my car to work rather than the gas guzzeler truck and that should save another several hundred dollars in gas costs! He may even take the train to work again, it was hard before because we'd never see eachother because we work oposit shifts and the train times weren't the best, but now that I'm home it won't matter as much. This will also be a huge help when we have kids, little to no day care costs!

In other news, I've applied for another CC with a 0% for 12 months balance transfer, so I should be able to transfer our current debt when our current 0% offer expires in June. I already know I'm approved, I just have to wait until the card shows up in the mail to find out my credit limit, ask for an increase if nessesary, then transfer the balance.

The bathroom project has been on hold since we've had trouble with the cars, no spare cash to buy supplies, so nothing has really been done in quite a while. It's going to be a while before we can start on it again, turns out the back roof is shot and has to be replaced, so we'll do that once DH is done with the spring yard work. He can do the roof himself so it will just be supplies, I'm hoping it will be $1000, maybe even less, it's not a big roof. Oh, the gutters need to be replaced to, but that can't be much. Its so nice having a DH that can do the work, DIY is much cheaper than hiring someone!

$24 for soup

March 21st, 2007 at 09:09 pm

Not much new, which is good because nothing has happened that has cost us any money!

Jewel had Campbell's soup on sale this week $1 a can (normally $1.65 a can) so I stocked up (bought 24 cans for a total of $24) since I cook with it a lot and it hardly ever goes on sale. I also bought 10 cans when I did my regular shoping on Sunday. I would have bought it all then but they were out of several varities I needed, so I went back today for the rest. That should hold us until mid-summer, maybe longer. 34 cans at .65 cents a can means I saved $22.10. Not bad.

I also got a pound of deli ham free when I bought a pound. DH eats that stuff like mad so it will be gone before it spoils, and even if he didn't I understand it freezes well. That saved another $8 or so. Bacon was BOGO and there were a few other deals. So we've been able to stock up for a while, next week I'll only need to get fruit and dairy, and maybe one or two odds and ends.

We've gotten more demo done on the bathroom, it should be done in another week. The demo is taking a really long time because we are gutting it down to the studs and flor joists. Also this house was built in '47 and they built stuff to LAST back then, it litterally won't come apart! Once the demo is done, that's when we'll start to have to buy things to put back in it, so I'm actually glad that it's taking so long. DH will be able to get more overtime starting next month so the OT will go towards the new bath materials.

I got $130 in rebate checks all in about 2 weeks time, just went to the bank to deposit them over the weekend. The money will go towards paying off the CC bill from last month, the one that was huge due to repairs to DH's truck. It will depend on how much, if any, OT gets in the next two weeks but at the most we'll have to pull about $1300 out of savings to cover it. So next month our goal is to replenish savings as much as possible. At least we can pay in full and don't have to run a balance!

Well, at least the weather is warmer!

February 22nd, 2007 at 10:05 pm

The cold snap finally broke in the Chicago area. Thank goodness! Even for Chicago, it was a bit much. Of course, they're calling for a snow storm over the weekend...

DH is back from PA, he went home for his Grandmother's funeral. But he came back with a cold, poor guy! He wanted to jump right back into the bath remodel, but now he's just sleeping all day (he works nights) since he doesn't feel well. Hopefull he'll shake it off soon and we can get moving on it.

Money-wise, not much new. Got the Federal tax refund already. It will sit in savings until we need it to pay the credit card with the truck repairs. Easy come, easy go! March is a 5 paycheck month for DH, so that will also help pay for the truck repairs. At least we can pay all in cash and not have to run a balance, the card we use has a 22% interest rate! We use it to earn frequent flyer miles, and I guess reward cards usually have a higher rate (to help pay for the rewards, I assume). So we really don't want to start a balance on that if we can avoid it! It's worth using the card though, the miles we earn paid for both DH's trips home during his grandmother's illness and death, we'd have been out over $1100 in airfare if we didn't have the miles for free tickets!

Stupid truck

February 14th, 2007 at 08:39 pm

Just when I think we are turning things around!

I was planing on banking $1500 to $2000 this month, both to replenish our savings account from last month and to begin to save for a down payment to replace my aging '98 Saturn. DH's truck starts making a funny noise on Sunday, so he takes it to the shop. The quote? $1500 to fix it (something to do with the ball bearing joint and a couple other things). It had to be done, the guy at the shop said another 100 miles and the front left wheel would have fallen right off (and DH is very knollegeable about cars/trucks so he knows they weren't blowing smoke up our butts).

I guess the silver lining is that we can pay for the repairs in cash and not have to go into debt, but jeeze! Every time we take two steps forward, we wind up taking two steps back again. I feel like we're banging our heads against a wall.

I'm sorry to report that DH's grandmother died Sunday evening. She's been ill for the past couple months so it wasn't a surprise, in fact that's why DH went home to PA last month, to see her one last time since it wasn't expected that she was going to recover. Sadly the doctors were right. DH flew home today, the services will be on Friday. Thankfully, DH gets paid berevment so the paycheck won't be short like it was last month when he went home. Also, it's a good thing I'm a travel agent. I got his airline ticket for free, had we had to pay for it, it would have been $800 since it was booked last minute. So we'll just be out the car rental. I'm glad we have the resources so he can be with his family at a time like this, I can't imagine being in a possition that you couldn't get time off or be able to afford a plane ticket home, that must be terrible.

Hopefully my next post will be more upbeat! Happy Valentine's Day!

Filed the taxes

February 5th, 2007 at 06:29 pm

Well, DH got his W2 on Thursday so I filed our taxes over the weekend. $450 back from the Feds and $70 from the state. Should do better next year, we'll be able to deduct the full years real estate taxes. The money will go straight to savings to put back what we had to take out last month.

I'm feeling better about our finances. This month's CC bill (the one we use and pay off each month) should be quite low and DH is getting more overtime, so that should allow me to put back 100% of the money we took out of savings last month, plus maybe a bit extra. I also got a 0% for 12 months balance transfer offer in the mail, so I'll be able to transfer our debt to another 0% card when the time comes. It's just a $75 transfer fee, which is acceptable, but I'll keep an eye out for other offers that are fee-free. It would save us that much interest in just one month (and then some) so I don't mind a $75 fee, though I'll avoid it if I can. That will give us another 12 months interest free, hopefully we'll do better about geting it paid down, but I' not hold out much hope.

We are remodeling our upstairs bath, and have decided not to make it bigger by breaking into the bedroom. DH wasn't too happy about but I just felt that, one, it was too much money and we don't have it right now, and two, that we'd be "overbuilding for the neighborhood", ie we won't get our investment back when we go to sell. Plus it will cut the time it will take to remodel by at least half, which is always a good thing! We'll still be able to put in a bath tub/shower combo and a bigger vanity (the old bath and a shower only and a wall sink) but it's going to be a tiny bathroom, no two ways about it. But it's a small house to begin with, so I think that's okay. Not many homes in our neighborhood even HAVE two full baths to begin with, and only a handfull have a full bath upstairs at all!

One area I am concerned about is my car. It's running okay, but needs work on the suspension. I'm at the point were I don't know how much more money I want to sink into it. I've had it 9 years as of March, so I've definatly gotten my money's worth, but at the same time I loath the thought of another car payment, since there is no way we can pay cash for a newer used car. But if I can get a low payment for 3 years, maybe that wouldn't be so bad. Something to research, anyway!

Random thoughts

January 24th, 2007 at 05:07 pm

DH is still doing demo on the bathroom. At least demo is cheap, just the dump fees for the debris. Next month I have to pick out tile and paint. DH says I have to pick the colors since I never like what he picks. That's not true, the only thing he's picked out for the house that I didn't like is the stain color on our fence, it's looks orange! We also have to pick out the shower, tub, faucets, vanity and sink. I hate decorating, I always second guess myself about what will look good, and when you're spending this much money, it's especially nerve racking! And it's not like you can lay the tile, look at it for a week, and decide you don't like it. Once it's down you're stuck with it (litterally, it's stuck to the walls and floor! Wink ).

Still waiting for DH's W2 so I can do the taxes. I have all the other data entered into Turbo Tax so once I get it, I can just plug in the numbers and we'll be ready to file immediatly.

Got our first real winter gas bill, only $134. Not bad, our January bill last year was double that. Between lower natural gas prices and a mild winter, this is going to be a lot better than last year. Part of our home remodel is to add insulation to the walls and roof (right now it's non-existant, they didn't insulate house in the 1940's I guess) so next year should be even better. I hope we can take the tax credit for energy conservation related home improvment items next year, I haven't been able to find out if that was just for 2006 or if it continues in 2007.

The budget has been tight this month, the time DH had to take off to visit his sick grandmother was un-paid, so two of his checks will be way below normal. Coupled with the high credit card bills from last month, we are pretty low on dough! He worked two extra shifts this past weekend, and he'll do one or two more extra ones this weekend, so hopefully we can replenish savings quickly and get back on track.

I've given up on trying to pay off our CC debt anytime soon. DH just will not get on board. The bathroom remodel was supposed to be realatively cheap, now he wants to go all out on it. He wants to do the kitchen next year, and God only knows what he'll want to do after that. Plus there is the stuff that must be done, like replacing the furnace and AC, and re-wiring the house. He wants to take a real (ie expensive) vacation this fall, he wants to replace his truck sooner rather than later, he wants to start trying to have kids this year too. In short, he just wants to live life like we aren't in debt (which, if we weren't in debt, would be fine). The best I can do is to keep us from increaseing our debt (and I've been successful so far), and paying the minimum due on our 0% interest CC and keep doing 0% balance transfers so we are at least not paying interest on our CC's. At the current rate we'd be done in 4 to 5 years, I'm going to try and get it done in three if I can. I had hoped when I first started this blog to be CC debt free by mid-2008 at the latest. That's just not going to happen now. DH just won't stop spending and I just don't have the energy to fight. The best I can do is to attempt to keep his spending down to where we can pay cash for everthing and not go further into debt.

Well, it's started...

January 19th, 2007 at 07:51 pm

...we've started our upstairs bathroom remodel. DH has gutted the existing bathroom and we are trying to decide if we should make it larger by pushing into our bedroom, or just working with the space we have. Pros and cons to both, of course. Meanwhile, we have to use the downstairs bathroom. What a pain in the butt that is! Nothing like getting up to pee in the middle of the night and having to trudge all the way downstairs and back up again (all the while triping over the dog, because she just HAS to follow me everywhere I go...). It will be worth it in the end, but meanwhile it's not a whole lot of fun.

I've paid off the CC's that DH ran up last month. Took a lot out of our savings to do it, but DH will be working OT to put the money back, and so far he has kept his promiss and hasn't spent any money unless it's been nessesary. So far, so good, I'm keeping my fingers crossed!

I had some gift certs from Christmas burning a hole in my pocket, so I've been shoping a lot recently. I've done really well, though. $56 got me 5 tops and a skirt at JC Penneys, and I got two skirts I've been eyeing at Eddie Bauer for less than half price. The skirts at EB weren't exactly cheap, $35 each (marked down from $80) but EB quality is excellent and their styles are clasic so I'll get years and years of use out of both of them. I still have $50 in gift certs left to use, so I'll be doing more shoping soon.

I've already got my new Turbo Tax software to do our taxes, just waiting on DH's W2 so I can finish them up. We should get a refund, that will either go into savings or to pay off the CC, depending on how well we can refill savings on our own. The one sad part of doing the taxes is that I see how much money we made last year, and then look at the bank balance, and wonder "where did it all go?". Well, I know where it went, of course, but I'm sure you know what I mean! When you look at your annual income, it looks like you should be living high on the hog, but when you look at your pay check, you wonder if you'll have enough to cover all your bills.

New Year, same old stuff

January 4th, 2007 at 10:10 pm

New year, same old problems. Well, to be fair, the car was fixed prior to Jan 1, but since I charged it, it's being paid for in '07, so I guess that counts as being a problem in the new year! I had to replace some doohickey on my Saturn, to the tune of $400 plus $80 for a new belt. And I had to get it fixed, I needed the part to pass my IL vehical emisions test. That's an odesey in itself, but that's a blog entry for another day.

Also, DH has been racking up the CC again, all in all our CC bill will be $2700 or so. And none of that is Christmas, either, I paid cash for all the gifts (not that we spent much)! Plus DH said he has $500 on his little CC. So once AGAIN, all our income is going to pay bills, nothing extra for our debt or into savings. And DH didn't work any overtime last week OR this week, so we have no extra coming in there either. The OT was available, he just declined it. Not only that, but he is taking unpaid time of in another two weeks to go home to see his dieing grandmother. I don't begrudge him the trip AT ALL, I totally understand and encouraged him to go, but since he doesn't get paid for time off, that's less income well have this month to pay. At least the trip is cheap, I used airline miles to get the ticket for free and the car rental is only $88 for 4 days.

If you've read previous posts, all of this sounds familure. I keep saying I'll get a second job, and DH keeps saying he'll work more OT and stop spending, no need to get a second job. So I don't look for a job, then he's good for a month and goes right back to his old habits. Screw it. I'm looking for a job this weekend. All my pay will go towards paying down the debt, since we can only seem to live paycheck to paycheck on our SUBSTANTIAL income because DH is an idiot. At this point, I can't control his spending, so all I can do is increase our income. I'm not starting a fight over this. He wants to spend $500 on computer parts, fine. He wants to spend $85 on his train hobby, fine. He refuses to clean out his old bachelor storage unit and save us $100 a month in rent, fine. I can't control his actions, I can only control mine. While we have this debt I can't buy a new car (the Saturn generaly runs fine but it's 8 years old with over 100k miles on it, it can't last forever) and I'm hessitant to get pregnant, because babies are so expensive (from what I'm told, anyway!). I'll be 31 in May and I'm not getting any younger, if we are going to start a family, it needs to be soon. So if he's not going to help, I'll just do it myself!

GRRRRRR!!!! This is so frustrating!

Started Christmas shoping today

December 13th, 2006 at 07:08 pm

Boy is it nuts out there! I went over my lunch hour, and traffic was crazy. It wasn't the number of cars on the road, it was the insane things they were doing, like running read lights and driving on the wrong side of the road!

Anyway, I managed (by the grace of God!) to make it unscathed to all my various stops. Barnes and Noble for a gift cert for my Mom and my oldest brother (that was for his birthday this Saturday and not Xmas, actually.) I stoped at the toy store for my two nephews, and then went to Lowes for a gift cert for my other brother. I'm giving cash to my father (per his request), and DH wants to send cash to his mother and grandparents. So that just leaves my oldest brother and his wife, my DH, my two co-workers, and a stop at the card store for cards to those whos gift is being mailed. I'll do all of that on Friday, we get out early due to our office Christmas party and I'll be right near the mall.

All in all, we'll spend about 1/3 of my bonus on presents, then I'll send a check to a charity or two, and the rest goes towards our debt.