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Monthly Archives: September 2011

PF Update

Once again, this is not a PF blog, but I figured a little accountability would hurt.  Here’s a run down of my original goal set earlier this month

  • Eating out/ “work food”Realistic Monthly Budget $100 ($10/week/person on work food, $20 eating out) Ideal Monthly Budget $60 – Goal Met? Almost, I did really good this month, but the hubby used a little more than he normally did.  We also had a day sitting with family in the hospital factored in here.
  • The No Clothing ChallengeRealistic Monthly Budget $25 Ideal Monthly Budget $0 Goal Met?  Very close, we needed to PJ’s for the kiddo and none were to be found in the consignment shop, so I hit up a really good sale at a kids store
  • The Entertainment List –  Realistic Monthly Budget $40Ideal Monthly Budget $30 Goal Met?  Nope, hubby’s game subscription was renewed this month and he broke his headphones and I succumbed to a book purchase.  Oh well, like I said before, it happens – he renews the subscription for multiple months at once to get a discount, and used a great deal for the headphones, so we came out ahead of what it could have been in the end.
  • Vacation/TravelRealistic Monthly Budget (for months with travel, room + extra gas) $125 Ideal Monthly Budget $5  Goal Met? – Yes!  Didn’t do any traveling this month, and probably won’t in October.
  • GroceriesRealistic Monthly Budget $800 ($50/person/week ) or $400 for my half-share of the bills Ideal Monthly $600 ($37.50/person/week) or $300 for my half-share of the bills.  Goal Met?  Nope, however it was almost a 5 week month, the baby’s stock of everything was depleated so I stocked up for another couple months, and I purchased for some bulk projects I’ve working on.  I’m hoping we can really start utilitizing our stores this fall and I really need to figure out a way to account for non-food items in some of those bills to get a better idea of what’s being spent on what.

So in all it sounds like a bad month, however it wasn’t.  We had some big purchases – our family photos and a new carseat which came out of savings, we paid off the car, we treated my mother to dinner for her birthday, etc. however factor those out and adjust things around and were still on track for having effective spending habits with a mortgage and more childcare factored in.

So for October, I’ll still be working to reach those Ideal Goals and doing a little more careful calculations to see where any problems are.  I know want to be shopping for groceries more at real grocery stores, not stores that have groceries in them to keep from confusing the budget.

Onwards and upwards – we won our battle yesterday and keep us in your prayers that we get good news on the dayshifts soon.

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Protect Us In Battle

 

Today is Michaelmas, or the Feast of St. Michael – even most protestants are familiar with the start of his prayer “St. Michael, defend us in battle”.  Traditionally the celebration is associated with the equinox, and harvest.  It is also when quarterly debts were to be settled among other things.  Well, we’ve settled our debts recently, and my dad is working on bring in the harvest.  We also go to negotiate next years rental agreement for the farm with my Grandmother today – it is our battle and one I hope will have a good resolution.

So St. Michael, if you’ve got a moment, please defend us in battle today.

Good Morning

Foggy morning.

Did laundry and checked emails while the baby climbed a half asleep Mount Daddy.

Spent the morning in the kitchen. 

Baby in the high chair eating puffs and playing with tin measuring cups. 

Making a large pot of soup for freezing. 

Listening to bluegrass and folk.

Laughing at whatever 7.5 month olds find hilarious.

Eating homemade strawberry jam on toast.

….

Really don’t want to go to work now.

Onwards

Thanks everyone.  Just that, thanks.  Thanks, no frills or sprinkles on top.  Thanks in the way my stoic mid-western relatives prefer to receive their thanks – quietly, quickly but full of sincerity,

I’ve got a lot on the way.  Fall is my favorite season by far and since we’re having a cold snap my instincts to knit and cook have been in overdrive and I can’t wait to share these things with you.

And for those who need a good laugh, I found this in the past post of my old defunct blog –

Saint Molly –

Patron Saint for protection from/for the victims of Nitpickers, Naysayers and the Chronically Grumpy.

Saint Molly , pray for us.

Help us smile in the faces of those who find fault in everything we do.

Help us remain steadfast when surrounded by those who always know better

And remain chipper and upbeat when surrounded by those who have no discernible sense of humor.

If we fail at this please see fit to provide us with Dr. Pepper, Peanut Butter Twix and a quiet, hidden place to stomp around and yell until such a time when we can complain ad-naseum to our significant others.

Amen.

hmmm…. I wonder if I could convince good ol’ Benny in Rome to canonize me while I was still living…

Ungrateful is to Thankfulness as…

I was surprised to find out that our weekend’s announcement was meet with a little bitterness from some folks.  Though the majority of the folks we shared our news with were proud and congratulatory I received a few responses that indirectly accused us of being nothing short of ungrateful.  Sadly one of these was from a relative of all people, feeling the need to point out the “assistance” we’ve received.

I’m nothing, but human.  I also take things too seriously and easily get defensive – so here you go.

First to clarify – yes, we received a big boon to our goals by being offered a place to live rent free for the last year while I dealt with a hard pregnancy, and we went through career changes.  By the time we moved last year into this arrangement we’d already paid off about 50% of our debt and had a plan, a plan that would have worked even if we were paying more for daycare and paying rent – it might have taken an extra year, but it was achievable.  However, every penny that has paid every bill – debt related or not – was earned directly by my husband or myself; we received no assistance to pay our bills – I’ve never even been on unemployment though I spent over 6 months of those two years without an income -, but rather we accepted ‘assistance’ to avoid additional ones.

I don’t know about you, but I see a difference there; but, as I said I get easily defensive.

Second – Since I was apparently too excited with the news and was to eager to just share the basics of our debt free journey; please let me now thank the academy in no particular order-

  • Thank you to authors like Duane Elgin, Vicki Robin and Joe Dominguez – your books provided my first peak at what the good life is.
  • Thank you to every employer we’ve had… ever.  Thank you for employing us and keeping us employed.
  • Thank you God for getting me through the rough times – I truly believe I’m not given more than I can handle and surprised when that amount is more than I thought.
  • Thank you to our friends who understand why we choose to have less and say no to the things the believe are necessary.
  • Thank you to blog friends who’ve dealt with my rough times whether through passive aggressive comments or complete silence.  You guys are awesome.
  • Thank you to Ravelry friends who’ve given me wonderful support over the last couple months via the Simple Living discussion forum.
  • Thank you forever and ever to our families who support us- whether in the form of a pat on the back or a place to live has truly allowed us to meet our goals. 
  • Thank you to my husband who trusted me with the bank account and was accepting of every time I said “Not till next week, monthly or year”.
  • Thank you to our parents who gave us strong work ethics and determination and set wonderful examples.  I’m proud that they made us make our own way in life.  I’m proud that my parents told me at 15 that if I wanted money to spend I had to earn it, that at the age of 18 that if I wanted an education that I had to pay for it, that at the age of 25 that my wedding would mean more if it came out of my pocket.
  • And the biggest thank you (other than the big man up there!) currently goes to my parents and grandparents for sacrificing their time and their home to help their children and grandchild.  I can only hope that I’m able to express a fraction of my gratitude before I die and I hope that I search out as many opportunities as possible to pay your kindness forward.

If I’ve forgotten anyone this time around it is not intentional and I’m thankful for everyone who’s aided my family in any way, shape or form.  Before I go, I’ll leave you with two bits of wisdom this weekend has shown me:

“First, have a definite, clear practical ideal; a goal, an objective. Second, have the necessary means to achieve your ends; wisdom, money, materials, and methods. Third, adjust all your means to that end.” – Aristotle

AND

The Day We’ve Been Waiting For

As of 10 a.m. this morning the “Make-Do” Family has ZERO consumer debt.

After collecting the hubby and the baby around the computer I clicked that final button and paid off our car and 6 six days shy of our 2 year mark we are (consumer) debt free. 

In those two years we’ve:

  • Had a promotion (the reason we could start the goal in earnest)
  • Had an off-season (3 months of no work)
  • Celebrated birthdays and holidays
  • Explored the West Coast
  • Found out we were having a baby
  • Moved cross-country
  • Took a minimum wage job – Me
  • Bought a second used car
  • Changed jobs (and took a pay cut to do so) – Him
  • Got the interview that turned into a real job a few days before Christmas
  • Went on 3 months of maternity leave
  • Got job offer
  • Had baby
  • Turned 28 (both of us)
  • started new job – entry-level but still mor per year than I was making before
  • Got a small raise, got past 6 months probation period and got another raise
  • Had expenses, bought clothes, tires, maintenance, fun things, saw movies, ate out, visited family, etc.
  • Paid of over $11,000 of debt – approx. $7500 car, $2300 loan, $1200 credit card
  • Have saved equal amount in preparation for home buying/savings/day to day expenses

I wasn’t sure if I wanted to share the total amount on-line, but decided I wanted to do so to show those who want to do something similar that it is possible even when faced with those day to struggles and ups and downs.  You make sacrifices along the way, but it’s amazing how quickly you learn to stick to your guns when you see that number start to get smaller.  It’s even possible with small budget and paychecks.

How we did it –

  • Careful budgeting – figured out the needs and always saw that those were met each time they arose.
  • Planned known expenses in advance – Getting a flat tire can’t be planned, but other things can.  You know when birthdays and holidays are coming up and can plan accordingly.
  • Pay with cash – Okay I’ll admit the envelope system doesn’t work for me, but paired up with my budgeting and planning it was easy to look a week or two in the future and see the expenses I knew would arise and do a little quick math to see what was left over in the account after those expenses were taken care of.  If I had extra, I could spend it; If we were barely squeaking by until the next paycheck that thing could usually wait.
  • Knowing that Money = Life – yeah that sounds a little weird, but if you work for a living and receiving a paycheck it’s easy to figure out just how much of your life you’ll be at work to afford that brand new car versus a used one.  Heck, an Ipod on an entry-level  salary will cost you over 20 hours of your life.  An Ipad, over 50 hours – that’s 50 hours of your life working just to have a gadget you might not need, which will have to be replaced eventually anyways and if you’re obsessed with owning the latest and greatest, the amount of time spent earning those items adds up; put it on a credit card and you can tack on another couple of hours filling TPS reports and being asked if you got that Memo.  (Apply this logic to cable TV, I dare you.  It’ll make your head hurt.)

Things we’ve learned in the last two years:

  • It’s not hard to say no – when you start asking yourself if something is a want or a need, it becomes easier to say “I don’t really need that now”.
  • Find the budget that’s right for you – Everyone is different and everyone will find their own bookkeeping methods – mine was a Word program calendar file that allowed me to track exactly how much we needed in our account each week to take care of our needs (bills, food, gas) which made it easy to see the $500 extra in the checking account was not up for grabs.
  • Set budgets, but don’t beat yourself up – it’s okay if you set a budget for eating out or gifts and have 3 long-lost friends drop into town, a wedding and a 1st birthday all in the same months.  It’s life, you only get one, so enjoy it when it happens and adjust the next month accordingly.
  • Saving is addicting – While I hope not to become a Scrooge coveting my saved dollars, saving money can become addicting and you start to mourn times when you can’t save as much as you’d like. Part of this is the feeling of security you get knowing that if the month (mentioned above) also happens when the kid outgrows all his clothes, you get two flat tires and the toilet backs up you’ll be okay.
  • You’ll amazed out how little you need to really live well.

Now the plan is to bulk up the savings even more in preparation for the house buying by putting what we were spending on the car directly into savings and keep plugging away at those student loans, which we should have paid off with in 7 years, but I plan of figuring out a way to pay them off in 5 or the by the 10th anniversary of graduation.  I plan on trying to make a bulk payment to them in a month or two to pay off any outstanding compounding interest left over from my less financially savvy years.

Today is a good day.

{Weekend Wonders}

{Weekend Wonders} – A little something to read while drinking your coffee Saturday morning in the hopes that it will give you something to think about, talk about or the inspiration to do something!}

Okay folks it’s time to put our money where our mouth is.  I know how hard it is to make good decisions for the world at large while trying to balance a check book; but even a small change is a change.  Go here to learn about a project to inform consumers about their favorite products and companies.

Each business is ranked according to 5 key issues – human rights, the environment, animal protection, community involvement and social justice.  It is a growing project and will be offering detailed look at their ranks on certain products every month.

I would encourage, not a full turnaround (like binge diets they only work so long), but a slow and steady change.  Choose 3 categories/products most important to you or are on your purchasing list in the immediate future – this could be body care/clothing/coffee or car/ice cream/paper products and start at the bottom of the list.  Make a pact with yourself not purchase from companies with the worst, “F”, rating to begin with.  Since many of the “F” ratings are big, known brands – think Kraft, Budweiser and Nestle – take a couple months looking for the brands higher on the list, researching alternatives (can you make your own or buy local?), and finding out just how much more wiser purchasing decisions will cost.  Once this happens cross another letter of your list – take the “D” ranked items out of your rotation. And continue, personally I’d allow myself to purchase from any company with a B ranking or better – ideally if we start supporting the more sustainable companies and they stick to their moral guns a large population could affect prices, making the items more affordable (I know this isn’t a perfect economic assumption, but go with me I’m an idealist).

I would choose to focus on 1) Body Care, 2) Hair Care and 3) Cleaning*

*I’m fully intending on going over to vinegar and baking soda within the next couple months, but for the items it doesn’t cover.

What three products would you choose to focus on?