Last night I was so tired, I ended up skipping my blog, so today, I want to write two. Anyway, the first is just around the corner and this is when most of the bills seem to hit or are due. It's been a slow process trying to break the cycle to catch up so it doesn't feel like such a blow to the paycheck, along with a list of priorities of bills first. I have to update my debt list. Some went down and some went up, so it could be a take two steps forward and three steps back dance right now.
Archive for February, 2011
I donated the bag of clothes today and cleared emails, clutter, along with removing myself from various forms of stress/people. After doing this, other amazing people and opportunities just showed up/appeared. The last few weeks has really motivated me to change and see the change. It's really wonderful and this site has literally changed my life (I know sounds a little cheesy, but really/reading peoples blogs and also blogging has changed things more than on just finances).However, I did go to trader joes to buy kiddos milk and snacks since I ran out and was in the car. $10.75. They also gave my kiddos stickers, which prevented some major child meltdowns.
My husband and I continue to get things done and face projects we have had for a while, not just with finances, but even things around the house. After our closet was cleared, he installed the landline with a different phone that was needed. I even had a bag of clothes to donate and put it in the car so it doesn't sit stagnant. I also found a skirt that I had been looking for and was so excited to see it again! We finished calling the card companies and know where we stand. I have been reading the Dave Ramsey book and watching his dvd multiple times just to get his message ingrained in my system. We are faaaaaar from getting our debt paid off and will have to take baby step #1 and get the $1000 together. It's been fascinating to look back and think that before the kids and house,we were +12,000 (not including my student loan). After the house and two kiddos later, we are -$100,000. sighhhh. Anyway, on the the two faced mom update from a prior entry... it continues to surface, but I'm kind of glad. I actually dis-associated myself from the group and defriended the person. I feel like I am purging what I don't need and as I do it, things are surfacing and making room for what is needed. I feel blessed and know it's a little tough, but not as tough as it would have been if I continued on my old path.
I went grocery shopping at the cheapest grocery store today and used $16 in coupons. However, my grocery bill was still (around the usual $100)... today $115. I realized today that I have a fear of not seeing food or having the feeling of being low on food. So, I seem to always be around $100, buying the two for ones etc. I am not sure if it is my habit of spending the $100 (ish) per week or if that is really what a normal family of 4 spends per week? So, what are you grocery totals per week? What are the usual/regular cost saving meals? By the way, I tried Hamburger helper tonight for the first time, but used ground turkey since it was on sale. It was pretty good and my husband said that he'd like it again. We also had fruit salad and biscuits. I think the total meal was less that $2 per person.
Wow, I learned today even more that ignorance is NOT bliss! My husband and I are determined to hunker down our debt and were calling the credit card companies today. I found out that I was getting charged 29% on the orchard card, a $936.49 balance! That is crazy to me! Apparently it was raised because I made a late payment and had no idea that I was getting charged this insane amount. They were unwilling to negotiate any kind of lower payment or minimun unless I paid $80 and wanted to charge me a $15 pay over the phone fee. I paid $40 to keep the card current and they waived the phone fee, but really, come on orchard...a phone fee??? I also contacted Target, which was much nicer (aside from the stalker calls two weeks ago, until I made a payment). They lowered the interest rate to 9.9% and cut my minimum payments in half for six months. We closed Home Depot, which only made me slightly sad since we still have lots to do on the house, but hey, how much can we do since we are trying to catch up on our mortgage anyway? We will work with CITI tomorrow to hopefully work something out. We should be getting our tax refund soon, which will help us catch up on our mortgage, but it's a bummer because we could have used this money to buy a much needed second car. This is one of the biggest and greatest lessons of our lives. It's almost hard to fathom that my spending habits reflect my mothers (not sure which is harder to digest, that I'm spending/being like my mother or have huge debt,haha) We are all going grocery shopping together tomorrow so my kiddos start understanding money, purchases, and where things come from (it will also help hubby understand how hard planning/getting them is toolol.We are holding off on the farmers market since the gas that would be used wouldn't be worth the cheap vegies and we won't be needed in the city.
I realized that I have a lot more clothes than I thought. I have been going on a "Clean out the Closet" rampage. Apparently, I already let out the debt skeleton...eeeeeeeeeh.lol. However, as I cleaned out the coats, shirts, and misc scarves on random hangers, the ironing board fell out! Clearly, I don't iron that much. However, behind it was a HUGE stack of shirts in the "I'll iron these when I have time" pile. I went through them and wow, I have more shirts than I remembered...even a few nice, white, linen ones for the summer. I also have some really outdated items too. My husband also has a lot of collard shirts, which is weird since he doesn't need them for work. Anyway, I also took out the next round of toddler clothes for kiddo #2, which was nice since I didn't know I had them in the bin of hand me downs. It's silly, but I feel like an archaelogist digging up things that I either forgot about or neglected on my life. My goal is to get my family's winter wardrobe set for next year. I am also on a hunt for some classic black boots since the ones I got from target fell apart this winter. I also ended up returning the brown ones to LLBean, they will take back any item for any reason, which is nice. Every winter we are the most broke, but clothes are the most needed for everyone. I am hoping to stock up on things this year by buying only classic looking pieces. However, I noticed that the Salvation army prices are the same as some things at Old Navy, which is weird. Other than that I bought costco baby wipes $18.99, a few more winter items from walmart $32 (but I am debating on whether or not I should take the coats back and look at other places), and $5 for costco hot dogs.
I have been finding that a good chunk of clothes that my kids have been wearing around the house to play in they have outgrown a bit. I have the "Going out clothes" with out stains. Then I have the abundant amounts of "Home play clothes" that are smaller, ragged looking,stained,or falling apart. This is where all the laundry comes from! I noticed that I should have gotten rid of the things with those misc. holes and small tears that you wouldn't let anyone see your kiddos in. I have useless clothes that I let my kids get yucky and change them a lot and then have to do mucho laundry! They would also be useless to goodwill/salvation army. Anyway, my daughter has been wearing the same "Going out" outfits for a while and I try to alternate them so she doesn't wear them on the same days I drop her off at school. So, today I cleared out the old clothes and put the semi-decent ones in a storage bin for the..."just in case I have more kids" situation. I am finding that the older clothes (more than 18 months/2-3 years) are more expensive and less given as gifts when you have a baby (that's why now, I give people toddler/older kids clothes). The little clothes never get worn! I was also bummed to find out that a mom I had given a huge box of clothes to apparently gets/asks for clothes from everyone she knows who has older kids than hers. Then she sells or consigns them! I had some mixed feelings about it because she didn't really need them, but perhaps needs the money? Anyway, I just felt conflicted about it since I understand the money part. Anyway,I looked at ebay. The clothes seemed cheap, around $1 a piece, but then the shipping would be over $10-15! I was also suprised that craigslist charged prices that are around Old Navy/Target/Walmart. So...headed off to Walmart to buy the outfits on sale. $4.50 for a two piece was pretty good. Also got art supplies (kiddo is obsessed with painting), bandaids, glue sticks, and kitty litter. I spent $100.58 (clothes for 2 kiddos and the rest). Unfortunately, I felt a little bummed about the mom consigning the clothes, along with the caddy crappy mom I found out about...so I took us out to lunch and spent $21.60 and gorged on cheap chinese food. I know, kinda back to 2 weeks ago with shopping and eating. Today it was the eating that wasn't needed, kiddo clothes were needed, but I am sure I could have gotten less or more creative with getting them through other means. Anyway, I just had mixed feelings about the whole day. Tomorrow, another chance
Not too distant a time ago...pre-marriage, pre-house, kiddos, and pets, I didn't have much stuff. I had very little in college due to moving apartments etc. After school, my boyfriend/now husband and I lived in a very small apartment with no eating area,a dinky bathroom, and a living area that only held a futon,small ikea computer table, area rug, and t.v. When we moved into our house, we were still using the futon, until the dog ate a hole through it due to the first baby/frustration and most of the space in the house was empty. A few years later...Tonight,I picked up dirty dishes,folded clean clothes, then picked up dirty clothes, put coats away in an overstuft closet, cleaned up the living room toy explosion, found a yucky sippy cup, have piles of framed pictures, books, and a never ending amount of clothes to wash...I stand back and think out of complete frustration (that I even have to do all this) "HOW DID I ACCUMULATE ALL THIS STUFF?" Half the toys the kiddos don't even play with, in fact, they seem to only like things that aren't toys...like the potty seat, mommies stuff, pens, and computer. We now also have a junk room and our office also has more stuff. Our car is packed with various items too. This weekend my goal is to get rid of lots of stuff and donate it. It's become a pain in the butt to just have it in the house even. However, the thing that's so ironic is that we are still broke like in college/right after...actually worse with the debt, we just have lots of things now and extra mouths to feed. stuff, who needs it!lol.
So, around the time I decided to uncover the truth about finances, I also found out that a mom I thought was nice/a friend is two faced and decided to perpetuate the "he said she said" garbage to other moms about me. It's been trying to figure out how to control the fire she's spreading. Wow, that kind of hurt too.I guess to a certain degree I should be grateful since life is surfacing new truths, real people, and areas of my life that need dramatic attention. I've also found that many moms are the "One Uppers" and seem to be fueled on being competative and negative. It apparently has been getting worse as the kiddos get older, which is something I am not enjoying. Others are just like sheep and do whatever everyone else is doing or saying and seem to have lost any kind of straight opinion of their own. Anyway, aside from figuring out where my money goes, it seems to be the same with my friendships and realizing that a shift in better friends/investing in better friends is needed too. This process just like my finances is a little painful too.
So I went out last night and I ended up spending $23 on food/drink and then get this, $15 on parking because there wasn't any on the street. I should have just spent money on a small drink and parking, if I had done that, I would not have gone in the red on my account for the monthly membership dues. I will now pay$35 in overdraft fees, I think. I may be able to scrounge up the needed balance to keep the fee off. oh well, i was doing better for a while, but now have to get back on the horse. Anyway, my goal is not to have any more overdraft fees for the next month. However, my husband and kiddos made me the sweetest card/drawing and put it on the fridge. That made my day.
I also received the "Total Money Makeover" book by Dave Ramsey and also got the dvd on debt. Both are really inspirational and I like his hard hitting and no b.s points. The side stories of how people changed their spending and debt, much like this blog, are also very helpful. I am only about 1/3's into it, but am enjoying it very much. I'm also reading the "Cheapskate next door," which is also a fast and very funny book. Hopefully, both books will be done this week. If anyone has other book recomendations, please let me know.
Today was a wonderful day. I spent time with my family and a good family friend who loves my children as if they were her own since she doesn't have any. We went to the museum, which I had two free passes for, then used library passes for the other 2, which made the would be $18- tickets to $5 each. So, we spent $10 on admission and $10.25 on parking. The parking cost .25 more than admission! Our friend also happens to be an amazing chef with Asian foods, which I only wish I knew how to cook! (Um, can we say pasta at least once a week?lol) she gave us dumpling soup (homemade broth and dumplings), fresh spring rolls, and Valentines gifts for the kiddos. So I ended up spending $56.70 at the grocery store due to left over food we have and the large amount of food our friend cooked. A good chunk of it went toward my kiddo's Valentine's Day party that will happen tomorrow. I also ended up spending $10.41 on food/milk at the grocery store before going to the museum for our lunch at the museum. They have an eating area that's not part of the cafeteria/over priced food. I also made cupcakes with my kiddo #1 when we came home. I couldn't believe that the mix was only $1 and the frosting $1.50. She loved it! My hubby also apoxied the side mirror back on to the car. No more duct tape! All in all it was a really enjoyable day and I felt lucky and happy to be able to experience it with my family and good friend.
Today our plan was to go to the farmers market, but life got in the way and we changed our day to something less complicated (due to the kiddos). We ended up going to the library, playing, and getting some books. I also made some home made play dough for the first time and kiddo #1 loved it! I could not believe how much 2 cups of flour make. My husband and I chuckled that we had been paying at least $4 or more on it for a while and that this cost less than $1. Anyway, it was a good family day in that we got some chores done and hopefully we can make it next week. I'll be going grocery shopping tomorrow with a short list since we still have food left over from last weeks shopping. A pretty mellow Saturday, but nice.
Yesterday I bought hearts candy for my kiddos Valentines day/Cards etc. However, I noticed I had a huge bag of lolipops in the pantry (those little ones that are like the dum dums, but a different brand). I used those and taped a couple to the Valentines day cards. So, I returned the hearts candy and got +$3 back, but went in the red by -$.50 by buying a bagel/cream cheese, and coffee at my kiddos pre-school's cafe area. I'm pretty tired from being sick and ran a few minutes late already getting the kiddo to school (I know a lazy excuse, but I'm gonna use it Anyway, on the good news, I will be going to Hay market tomorrow with my hubby and 2 kids. It's Boston's super cheapo farmers market, but Boston style... you get bitched at if you bag the fruits/vegies yourself at the stand... they pick them for you, so you gotta watch out which vendors you go to so you don't get almost expired food. My husband and I want to find different fruits for the kiddos to try out and make it an adventure! I also got museum passes for Sunday from the library
My husband and I agreed not to get eachother anything this year for Valentine's Day, except for making cup cakes. However, I spent more on kiddo#1's whole class because tomorrow we are supposed to bring in cards etc so the kids can fill special Valentine's day bags for Monday. I spent $3.99 for heart candy boxes and $5.49 for those little cards. I thought about having my kid make them, but don't want to look like the cheapskate parent that makes cards out of old art etc, which I really thought about doing. I know... it will only get more expensive from here on. Anyway,I also got prescribed generic antiobiotics for a sinus infection $5.55,got generic Pedialyte $3.99/on sale, 1/2 off second $1.99/sale, and pediapops (clearly my kiddo still likes to keep me on edge with the barf, hence this mornings living room fiasco). So, for today all I can say is that....I heart my hubby, just not heart candy and cards.
So, my working out of home business is slow, but I got a check for $30 and $10/cash! I'll have to deposit this, but that feels great. I did want to do the usual take the kiddos and me to lunch after I picked up kiddo 1 from school. I made a lunch and we ate it in the cafe area of her school after I got her instead. It was really hard after getting in the car though. It sounds silly, but I drove by the restaurant we usually go to, actually circled it twice thinking if we should go or not...I drove us to the library instead. However, I did make purchases today, just not on a big lunch like usual.
-$ 4.99 food coloring (to make play dough)
-$ 4.59 cream of tartar (to make play dough)
-$1.55 coffee/cafe at kiddos school
So, I am only hoping that the food coloring and cream of tartar will pay off for making play dough since buying play dough at target is usually 5 or up and lasts about a week before my kiddo leaves it or hides it with her kitchen/play food.
Anyway,I checked out 2 books about money from the library:
"The Cheapskate Next Door"
"The Busy families Guide to Money"
Also, we spend $20/per month on Netflix. We don't have cable so this was originally why we got it. should we cancel this and do library check outs only instead?
So one kiddo is almost over an ear infection and the other ones stomach bug has passed. I am slowly getting better as I noticed that my concentration on finances are too. Today I was excited that I called Vonage and had them switch my monthly bill to a different package. I will now be saving +3. I also forgot to list the other day that my husband bought a transit pass, which will save +100/month. We also set up payment plans with the electric and gas companies. However, my hubby spent -$5 for lunch because I just packed him kids snacks and was so tired this morning to make a full one (even though it would have taken 5 mintues) due to being sick. So, I felt a little guilty about that and the money spent at Margaritas that couldn't be fully enjoyed due to the barf situation. Anyway, I confronted paying some bills, which included answering two calls to set up payments. Also paid the over due skincare/program bill and changed when my shipment is supposed to come since I have a few months worth now. I also made baked sweet potato wedges too, which were super cheap and really yummy to eat. Anyway, I am still conjested and am wondering if I should see a doctor, but that will cost -$25 for a co-payment and if it's just a cold, they can't do anything. I'll wait until the end of the week to see how it is with the sinuses. However, we are still dealing with a past due mortgage (which is somewhat disapointing since we paid on time for over 3 years)Writing everything down is becomming really helpful. There is more stuff still surfacing, but I guess it's like this cold that I have, taking care of it, letting it surface, and making sure I take the proper steps to heal it is the only way it won't get worse. These small successful steps are making things easier too.
Today was very busy. I was able to get the kiddos out of the house and the oldest to school on time (rare), come home, iron hubbies shirt for a teaching interview, do dishes, make snacks, get the salt/dirt washed off car, but the bristelly, blue, car washer thingy knocked off the side mirror (that was already appoxied on due to me hitting a side fence parking the car with the snow in the way). Anyway, went to walgreens for the following:
-$5.79 (walgreens brand cold/sinus medicine)
-$3.79 (duct tape to tape the side mirror back on until next round of apoxy?)
-$0.00 (diapers, had free diaper credit/coupon sent in mail.)
-$15 Margaritas (just got charged for drinks and not food, had to leave early).
Then I picked up oldest from school, somewhat embarassed due to the amateur duct tape job on side mirror. I got both kiddos home,fed,then picked up hubby to drive to possible teaching job/interview, hubby most likely got job, then on the way home delt with barfy older child in the back seat of the car...called pediatrician and she has some kind of gastro/stomach bug that's going around. We stopped off at Margaritas restaurant, the only one on the side of a very long interstate, got kiddo changed out of barfy clothes, went inside to the restaurant thinking she was car sick at the time, then delt with her barfing on the table in the middle of the restaurant after we ordered. We canceled our meals, I quickly drank my salt rimmed margarita, paid, and am now home. The kiddos are in bed, but at least I was left with a walgreens -$1 coupon for a next purchase of Suave product. woohoo, off to bed.
I went grocery shopping with my list in hand and menu. My total came to, drum roll please... $98. O.K, um, waaaaaaaaaaa.lol. The original total: $107, but I used $10 in coupons, which has never happened before (thanks to the suggestion for the coupon mom website).The bad news was that my target goal of $80 was over by $18. Although I normally spend between $100-150 the good news is that I've never had so much savings using coupons or been as aware as to what was on sale. Plus, to offset this experience there was man wearing a skirt and brown ralph lauren(ish) type boots in the baking isle. It was not a kilt either as I did a double take to figure out what was going on. So imagine buying flour and seeing a fully bearded man wearing a green, mid-length skirt, boots, and a jacket. He bought a cake mix. Also, I have never tried the crescent croisants before...on sale,they were more like round biscuits tonight because by the time I got home the tube was literally just a tube of dough. Those special lines that are supposed to be there were not. So...if anyone knows what shape these are supposed to be in off the tube, please let me know. We had round not so pretty biscuity things instead. I am not sure how people are buying groceries for $60-70 a week for a family of 4? Anyway, I also decided to buy flour and baking ingredients, which is also a new one. I found a play dough recipe, muffin, and biscuit recipe that I am going to try. TRY is the key word here...I am not known for my cooking skills.We also got our taxes done today. Our refund will go toward making up our mortgage and hopefully plane tickets for a family wedding.
I purchased items today, but for the first time it was more "Conscious" buying. I was actually fully aware of why I was purchasing the following items:
* 40lbs of Snow Meltaka overpriced salt for porch and steps) -$16.99
* Snow Shovel (replacing 2 year shovel that just broke) -$11.99
* Dry Erase board (to write down the debts and to see it everyday in the office) -$10.63
* Hanging folders (to file the past due items) -$6.99
* Water Colors (for kiddo/been stuck inside due to snow and need to find things to do...) -$1.99
* Printing at staples (turning in copies of prior tax returns to show a deduction in salary for bank/reason for past due mortgage amounts, plus our printer would jam and the cost to replace it is more than copying) -$7.89
* 2 gallons of milk -$5 (for kiddos, cereal, coffee)
* under eye concealor (for puffy dark circles from crying due to debts, o.k just kidding...kinda, was running low and it was time to refill. Lack of sleep from kiddos, but still trying to look decent.) $4.49
* 2 pints of ice cream (sigggggggh. well...it did make me feel a little better for -$4)
* theraflu (getting a cold)-$4.99
* Hershey Bar (my husband got this while buying me theraflu) -$.89
Tomorrow, I am going grocery shopping with coupons, a bulk/menu plan for the week, which includes family meals, hubby lunches, kiddo school lunch, the youngest doesn't take a huge chunk with food, but sure seems to poop like it, the diapers make up for the lack of food (which I now have coupons for). My husband will also give me time to cook the bulk meals. I'm also taking a calculator this time and only paying with cash. I'm a little scared,but will try and make it fun too. My goal is to make the trip $80 instead of $100-150.
The forecast calls for more snow here on top of the mounds we already have...So yesterday I confronted the list below, but forgot to add to the mound of debt I already have...
(new to the list)
Business Loan: $10,000
Car Loan: $4,000
Target: $1,100 (which is silly to forget, they like to call me in the morning and at dinner)
(first shocking truth listed)
Student Loan: $54,069.63
Mortgage Payment (past due/working with bank): $6000
American Express: $2,179.48
Discover Card: 1958.78
Orchard Card: $ 1000
Care Credit: $1000
Home Depot: $911.71
Skin Care: $45.89
Hospital: $ 884.99
Citi Card: $1,200
TODAYS NEW "TRUTH" TOTAL: -92,689.65
(not including mortgage)
This is just really really crazy to me. I am almost at the -93,000 like the mom blog I read about, but there is no way I can pay this off in 3 years like her, especially with what we're living on now. It makes me feel like a very stupid person. $92,689.65 could buy a condo, house, apartment, or lots of vacations...better yet a vacation condo, house, or apartment somewhere really warm and not snowy! It could have paid for the old degree ($54,069.63), which has done nothing and perhaps paid for a new degree that could have done something! It could have bought a second car...after it could have paid for the first car. We still share a car...my husband also takes the bus on alternate days. Now I feel more pathetic. Wow, this is quite overwhelming. I feel as if I need to go through the various stages of grief where a person experiences denial, anger, sadness, and then acceptance. Is shock, pure shock and overwhelm in that phase? More snow in the forecast...to be added to the mound...more debt. It feels like a financial blizzard and I'm standing out in it with just socks on.
So, after lots of filtering of piles, files, and stacks here is my current "Truth" of where I am right now, it's pretty painful: Most are all very past due.
Student Loan: $54,069.63
Mortgage Payment (past due/working with bank): $6000
American Express: $2,179.48
Discover Card: 1958.78
Orchard Card: $ 1000
Care Credit: $1000
Home Depot: $911.71
Skin Care: $45.89
Hospital: $ 884.99
Citi Card: $1,200
I am sure there are a few left out, but this is what I confronted today and seeing it written down is shocking. This didn't happen overnight though. I just let it get out of hand. The mastercard and home depot cards went toward our house, which is still draining money from us due to lots of fixing that is still needed. I guess I'm like the house, lots of fixing needed, but no finances to back it up. However, I did read a mother's blog about how she was $-93,000 and got out in 3 years, which gives me hope. I want this to be gone in less than 5 years. I ordered a ramsey book (didn't pay, had some amazon dollars left)and heard that his snowball debt paying method works. So what I can do now is take action...I'll find a phone DA to call this week. I'll cut out any other extras that I haven't cut out, meal plan/cook in bulk, sell anything that I am not using or donate it for the tax credits at least. I'll keep tabs on everything that I buy. For the first time in my life I want to stop hiding, stop being frightened by my fears, stop using food and money to fill the void and to start healing. I don't want to blame my parents anymore for not teaching me about money. I will now have to learn what they failed to teach and pass it to my children. This will be the toughest financial journey I have ever faced, but the thought that one day I can experience not oweing anyone/credit and being financially free out weighs the current fears I've had. Wow, getting the truth out was somewhat painful, but relieving at the same time. I now get to focus on the actions that are needed now and not just the numbers getting higher.
I am on a mission... This is my first blog and my first step in getting to the truth about my debt. Right now my desk has bills, stacks, and misc piles of magazines, newspapers, random receipts, and kids stickers. I can't take it anymore and decided to tackle the many problem piles that I have (AKA the many problems that I'm dealing with)I have to tackle what I will call the "Truth Piles."
It's going to be scary facing the phone bill that reads Due:$366 or the past due water,electric, and many other past due bills.sigggggggggggggh. However, the burden has become much greater than the pain of facing these sharp, square, pieces of paper that tell me I'm a delinquent. Here I go... I'll list all my past due bill numbers later, but it will take a while. I'll have to give myself a sticker as a reward in the end. Perhaps if it works for my kids potty training it will work for me