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Archive for October, 2014

I was good today - very limited spending!

October 31st, 2014 at 02:11 am

I so badly wanted to go out and get a pastry or lemonade or something. But I didn't - instead I waited until I picked F up from school and we got 2 for 1 slushies at Sonic ($2 total).

That was the official start of my birthday celebrations! F is off school tomorrow, so we have a whole day planned together including pumpkin carving, eating pumpkin seeds, playing scrabble, going out to lunch, watching a movie. Then we go to our friends' house; they live in the perfect trick-or-treating neighborhood. I always have birthday dinner with them, which is a nice tradition. And the daughter is one of F's two best friends. Also the grandparents will be there, and we've gotten really close to them, too, over the years.

My friend said she made my birthday cake this afternoon and it was hard not to eat it! She and I have many of the same dietary restrictions, so

So - some spending tomorrow for lunch, but it is my birthday!

Snowflakes

October 27th, 2014 at 10:08 pm

Although it's unseasonably warm, we've had a series of small snowflakes that I can put toward the mortgage...

1. I received another pinecone survey. That should bring my balance to 1800 points.

2. I had to order $500 in school tshirts on my credit card. I'll be reimbursed, but since it's on my credit card, I'll get the cash back. I earn 2 miles for every dollar, so that's $10.

3. I sold an old Halloween costume through craigslist today and made $12.

Grocery Spending and Voucher for Free Ice Cream

October 27th, 2014 at 01:48 am

Our grocery spending was low this month, which means the extra money can go to pay back our extra spending on D's new tires. I'm very relieved; that was an unexpected expense! I worked hard to keep it low, and next month we'll be in California for Thanksgiving, so there will be a week when we won't buy groceries. So November should be low, too.

Which is good because December is always right at our spending limit for groceries due to Christmas dinner!

Other unexpected expenses: gave a donation to Fs school for the Annual Fund. That comes out of our dining out budget. Also last month's repair to our shower faucet. And F's piano cost more this semester than we were expecting, so that money needs to come from somewhere until we adjust next year's budget.

In unexpected windfalls: I got a coupon for a free ice cream cone for my birthday next week from Baskin Robbins. Glad I signed up for that! And my mother sent me money for my birthday and decided no strings attached after all, but I loved people's suggestions of holding on to the money for a time when there is something I want. The only thing I can think of right now is a new cheese grater; ours has fallen apart after about 20 years of use - I think it would have lasted forever without the plastic, so next one won't have plastic. I have a coupon for Bed and Bath.

Self Employed Stuff

October 23rd, 2014 at 05:05 pm

I have lots of little projects right now, which I guess is ok - it all adds up.

My big project - a building for a local non-profit - will be on hold after this Friday while they work up a contract for me for the rest of the phases. They also want to stop for a month or so to secure some additional financing.

My other big project - a fire station - is also on hold because it's in the permitting process.

This leaves room for the next-largest project which I'll start on Monday. It's some renovations at a hotel.

And then review for two different subdivisions which entails lots of little meetings.

Here is the good news: I've met my earnings goal for the year!!! This means I don't actually want to bill until next year. It also means I can afford the slightly higher health insurance premiums next year so that we can have a PPO rather than an HMO. I am going to lower our deductible, too. The business covers health insurance for both me and F, and D gets his through his job.

I heard about one company that has high deductible policies for its workers, but it covers the deductible. I'm not sure how that would work or if it would be legit for my small S-corp. But that would be a great alternative.

Other work things I'm thinking about: I need to buy the new version of Autocad. I'll do that before the end of the year.

I am also taking a distribution to pay for our solar panels, but that money has already been taxed in previous years (as an S-corp, the tax on any profit is passed through to me). This doesn't affect the profit or my bottom line.

Also before the end of the year I need to work out next year's salary. With the health insurance cost increase, I don't think I'll give myself a raise.

If you have a business, are you dealing with some of this end-of-the-year stuff right now?

Frugal Long Weekend

October 21st, 2014 at 08:22 pm

F has had several days off school - a 5-day weekend!

I was worried that she'd get bored, but it's actually been super fun, and I'm sad that today is the last day she's home with me.

Yesterday we met another mom with a son in F's class and a daughter in 2nd grade and we drove down to a cute pumpkin patch together. There was a corn maze, hay-ride, "sand"box filled with corn, animals to pet... we had a picnic lunch, and I made apple pie to share. Admission was $6 for F and $8 for me, but it was worth it. The other mom somehow failed to make a picnic lunch, and then was shocked that there wasn't food to buy at the pumpkin patch. We had to go to a nearby cafe so she could get takeout sandwiches. She was pretty upset with herself, but the thing is, she's just moved from California, and she is still learning about the life and culture here (which is partly to do with how rural most of our state is). A few rules: always bring cash, always pack a lunch and snacks, always fill up your gas tank!

Today we woke up to a steady drizzle. Right now she has a friend over, another sweet girl who also plays soccer! They are playing some kind of made up soccer game with a balloon and giggling like maniacs. Free fun!

Later on - soccer practice (more free fun). F finds out if she's been selected to play in the extra game; fingers crossed.

I've been sitting at my computer, not getting much done. Autocad keeps crashing (ugh!) and while it restarts, I've been doing Pinecone surveys. For some reason, I've gotten 4 this morning! I've never gotten that many in one day! But... 4x $3 each = $12 - yes!!

What to Do - Long Weekend

October 13th, 2014 at 10:04 pm

It's turned chilly here, and there's a long weekend coming up (but D can't get off work, so it's just me and F). Most of her friends are going away for the long weekend, so playdates won't work.

I'm trying to figure out things to do... None of this can compete with an RV trip (one friend's family is renting an RV and going to Canyon de Chelly) or Disneyland (a few other families). But we are going to California for Thanksgiving, so that's the next real vacation.

1. The road with all of our art galleries has a "paint outdoors" festival this Friday; it'll be artists painting outside, and I thought we could bring some watercolors ourselves, and then walk up to the Tea House and get a scone.

2. Maybe visit one of the corn mazes.

3. Saturday soccer game.

4. Game day? Play a ton of board games.

5. Go up the hill and see the aspens which are now extremely yellow!

Why a Birthday is a Financial Minefield

October 11th, 2014 at 11:21 pm

I have a birthday coming up at the end of the month, and for some reason, birthdays are always financially difficult for me.

Here is why: I don't want anything. Well, nothing that you can buy, anyway.

What I do want: everyone to be nice to me, do my housework (my birthday is on a Friday this year, so the housework is minimal, but include doing the dishes, making dinner, tidying up, etc.). I like to get a card from F, too, because she makes the sweetest cards, and I cherish them and save them.

What I don't want: more stuff! I am working diligently to get rid of my stuff, and I have plenty of clothes and everything else in my life (and I am very thankful for that). I don't want to eat out, either.

My husband really wants me to have something, but I think I can convince him.

My mother, though, is a different story. She is going to send me a check (which I do want, actually, because there is nothing more satisfying to me than paying off something (like the new tires we had to get for D's car). But she says she won't send me the check unless I spend it on myself. Which is sweet, and I know she loves me and doesn't think I do enough for myself. But I swear I am far from deprived and it really makes me feel good to watch the red categories in my budget tracking go to black (or in the program I use it's green - even more satisfying).

So, what do you think? What do I tell my mom?

Rainy Day

October 10th, 2014 at 03:40 pm

I got my Pinecone check for $18 and sold an old jacket for $25, so I'll be making a visit to the bank today to pay down the mortgage principal. As a bonus, it's popcorn day (to be honest, I save my bank visits for Fridays, popcorn days).

F is supposed to have soccer practice tonight, but it's been raining constantly since this morning so I'm not sure it'll happen. If it does, D will take her, because I'm supposed to go to this school thing tonight.

I am not super-keen on going; it's like a cocktail party, and I have to dress in something called "business casual" which is a little funny for where we live (where everyone wears exercise and hiking stuff). I am actually sitting here in a regular shirt and scarf, but on my lower half, I have pajama bottoms and smartwool socks. (My jeans are on the table, but I'm only putting them on just before I go out!).

It's all my friends, though, and there will be food. And it's free.

I was told that as Parent Association president I have to set a good example and attend!

Almost None of my Friends Clean their own House

October 9th, 2014 at 04:12 pm

Working from home today... no real reason except that my workload is light today, and it's going to be HEAVY next week, so I thought I'd give myself a kind of break.

I am going to make some tea, work in a less manic fashion, head out at noon to teach my spinning class. Oh - and I just cleaned the mirrors.

Cleaning the mirrors made me think: my house is never completely clean at once because I have a weekly cleaning schedule (one or two things done each day) which means everything is cleaned at least once a week, but not all at the same time. It's the only way I can keep the house clean without spending an entire day doing it.

That got me thinking: I am almost the only one of my friends (I can only think of one exception right now, but there might be one or two more) who doesn't have a house cleaner. That's amazing to me!

No one ever talks to me about it; I think they know me, and know it's not in our budget.

I can see how it would be a justifiable expense, though, especially if we had more money; time is worth so much! I am figuring when I'm older/retired that it would be nice not to have to clean the house myself.

Do you clean your house or have a cleaner come in?

Spent Some, Saved Some

October 6th, 2014 at 03:01 am

Spending:
- dinner out on Saturday night because we went to see the UNM men's soccer team play ($30, but eating out once a week is in our regular budget)
- went to Old Navy and spent $86 on winter clothes for F (and got a couple of things for myself, and I know that I wasn't going to buy any clothes this year, but since I have two shirts that are worn out, these are replacement items - total for me was $26). My mom is probably sending me some money for my birthday later this month, so both my clothes and F's should be covered.
- grocery shopping: a usual budget item of course
- bought gas for the week (I get it every Sunday now since my gas gauge is broken; I do track mileage, but this way no matter what I have gas)

Savings:
- sold a hat on craigslist ($20 saved - will be put toward mortgage principal)
- F played in a tournament today, which was supposed to have an entrance fee, but it was waived because our league played internally and coaches ref'd the games rather than hiring refs ($35 saved)
- rescheduled my dentist appt. so that the visit is covered by insurance; the previous appt. was about two days under a full year, and insurance only covers once a year (saved about $100)
- Old Navy was having a sale, so we actually saved $50. We got a ton of stuff and believe me, she needed it! She's grown so much! (for her: 3 pants, 2 shirts, 1 pajama pants for $40)

Priceless:
- how F played in her soccer game yesterday and tournament today - she loves it so much, and it's so fun to watch her!

September Analysis and D got a Pay Rise!

October 2nd, 2014 at 03:04 pm

I'm pretty happy about September. We made $6335 net (that includes our salaries, $21 in side income and a gift from my mom for our anniversary).

We spent $4138 and saved $1165 (IRAs, school savings, mortgage principal, car savings). That leaves $1032 (which will go toward the Big Medical Expense - I covered it with savings, but I'm paying myself back, and as of Oct. 1, we are now back in the black in the medical category - yay!!!).

Our income is 1.5% lower than last year (D had a side project last year that added income in September, but August was way less; now his income is stable).

Expenses are 9% lower than last year.

Money put into savings is 53% higher.

And now the really good news: D just got a raise (effective Jan. 1); it's $2400 more a year (gross). I figure about $140 net a month. He is also eligible for his company's employee savings plan. It's a matching plan, so now we need to figure out what to do.

We currently contribute $400 to his IRA each month, after tax money. The employee savings plan is pre-tax money. There are a lot of unanswered questions (which I listed for him so that he can ask): up to what amount do they match? Where does the money go (Fidelity? Vanguard? something else?) Is there an option to put it into an IRA? A Roth IRA? If so, how do the taxes work in that case?

I've done some reading on employee savings plans, but I'm not sure I understand the tax implications. It is not a 401k. It is not a SEP or Simple.

We'll make decisions about the $400 and the new $140 once we know more.

Does anyone have experience with an employee savings plan?

Mortgage Principal and Pinecone Cash-Out

October 2nd, 2014 at 12:03 am

I got paid by the gym today (for August! ugh!).... but that's $55 toward the mortgage. Along with $6 I got from a Target rebate and my usual $150 from our budget, I paid down the mortgage principal by $211.

We've paid down an extra $3359 this year so far; the house will be paid off in July 2020 if we don't pay any more down on principal. With my usual $150 per month, it'll be October 2019.

I also cashed out Pinecone today; I should be getting a check for $18 soon (mortgage principal of course!).