Friday, August 31, 2007

August Money Review

As previously mentioned, this was a bad money month. As a reminder, our plan is to take our income, subtract $500 for savings, pay all of our expenses, and send the leftover amount to debt. Here’s a rundown of how we ended up for August:

Income minus $500 transfer to savings minus all the money we spent this month = $1.92.

Yes. One dollar and ninety two cents.

Here are a few examples of where our money went:

$500 – Transfer to savings (I have to keeping typing that to remind myself that we did not spend EVERY penny we made.)

$270.60 – Eating out. I’m serious. And keep in mind that I brought my lunch to work every single day in August. Can you imagine what I was spending before I was “frugalized”? It scares me.

$707.37 – Getting ready for school, such as new shoes, clothes, supplies, school registration, etc.

We did have one other big payment this month, but that came out of a separate bank account – not the one we operate out of – so I didn’t count it. But I will have to reimburse that account next month.

These numbers do not look good, I realize. I keep in mind, though, that had we not been keeping track of our expenses, we would have spent that additional $500 and then some! There were many things we chose not to do this month just because we knew it was going to be a tight money month with those outrageous school expenses.

I don’t think I’ll bother using that $1.92 as a extra payment toward a debt. I’d rather keep it to remind myself of just how close we came to diving into savings. I look forward to having a SUPER SEPTEMBER!

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Our "Needs" Are Killing Us

It's almost time to post my monthly review of how our budget went last month. Let me just tell you, it was Bad. Yes, I meant to use the capital B.

Our plan is to spend less than what we make each month. Our paychecks go into our checking account, we transfer $500 of that to our savings account, and the rest is to be used for expenses. Anything left over is extra money applied toward the debt.

There will be no extra money left for the debt this month, folks. In fact, I'm down to $174 left from this month's paychecks. I know there is one more check of about $135.00 to go through the bank, and my car is out of gas. Green also is going to an overnighter birthday party on Friday night, so there will be a gift for that. But I'm going to do whatever I can to not touch the $500 transferred to savings because I've made a promise to Pool Boy that I will not touch that. This budget plan requires honesty and trust, so I won't do it.

Pool Boy claims there's no way around this. He thinks all of these expenses are justified. Well, I know a heck of a lot of people who make way less than we do and are living just fine. We can certainly live on less than what we are making. We just need to be more focused.

I was listening to a Dave Ramsey podcast on my way to work this morning. A lady called in to get advice on their situation. She and her husband brought in over $200,000 per year, but they were in debt up to their eyeballs - like a million dollars in debt. The next caller made approximately $30,000 and they were $150,000 dollars in debt. Both felt completely hopeless. So it really doesn't matter how much you make. You get in the habit of borrowing money to buy the stuff you think you need to live the lifestyle you "think" you can afford.

Most of America lives well above their means. We've certainly been there - recently. "Need" a new computer? Use the Best Buy credit card. "Need" a new mower? Use the mower company's credit plan. "Need" new carpet? Use the carpet company's credit plan. "Need" a new leather furniture set? Use the company's financing. These examples are all interest-free, but it's still putting us into debt. The craziest thing is, we had the cash to pay for it. Still do! But we've always kept a certain balance in our savings account and it was hard to spend that money. I suppose that's what it's all about. It's easier to spend it if you don't physically have to hand over any money. If I had to hand the guy $2000 cash for the mower, I never would have done it. But sign my name on the line and I can walk out of here with a new mower? No problem. It seems so stupid when I actually type it here.

I'm sick and tired of it. I'm sick and tired of not using the money to better our family, rather than just trying to keep up. I just need to get Pool Boy sick and tired of it too.

Me, as a Book

Wow...this quiz was deadly accurate. Right down to Boo. I've got my own Boo living right next door.

You're To Kill a Mockingbird!

by Harper Lee

Perceived as a revolutionary and groundbreaking person, you have
changed the minds of many people. While questioning the authority around you, you've
also taken a significant amount of flack. But you've had the admirable guts to
persevere. There's a weird guy in the neighborhood using dubious means to protect you,
but you're pretty sure it's worth it in the end. In the end, it remains unclear to you
whether finches and mockingbirds get along in real life.

Take the Book Quiz
at the Blue Pyramid.

Mom of the Year

Hello! Me, over here in the corner waving my hands wildly!

Yeah, it's me, Mom of the Year.

For those of you who already read my other post today, Three is eleven -- not twelve.

Good lord...


Can that possibly be true?

I couldn't be more proud of the young man you are becoming. But please slow down...I can't stand to see you growing up so fast.

I love you. Happy Birthday!


Tuesday, August 28, 2007

School Pictures Finally!

Our traditional "first day of school" picture caused some problems this year because now they are in different schools and they started on different days.

**Hey Iowa Mom, get a load of the new shoes my kids wore to school on the FIRST day.

Since Three went to school first, I'll show his picture first. MIDDLE SCHOOL!!

Green started school the next day:

Three thought he should also be in a picture with Green, but it ticked Green off because "he already has his first day", it came to pushing and shoving, and so on. That's how things go around here.

Monday, August 27, 2007


I finished my other two books so I updated my book list on the right side of my blog. Look at what I'm reading! Is that messed up or what?

Books courtesy of Paperbackswap!

I Love Me Some Free Online Bill Paying

A year or so ago, my baby brother said to me, "Hey sis. You use online billpay, right?"

Oh man. I knew this was one area I knew nothing about. It was on my to-do list to figure it out, but I hadn't gotten around to it yet. So replied stupidly, "I'm sure some of my places wouldn't accept it. I mean, So and So Garbage Service? Ha ha ha."

He clearly thought I was an idiot. And now that I use it and know just how easy it is, I'm even more embarrassed about what an idiot he thought I was.

If your bank does not offer free online billpay, the first thing you have to do is switch banks. Yes, I would switch banks over such an issue. Then, you just log in to your online account and tell the system who you want to pay and how much. They'll take care of getting the check to whoever is supposed to get it. You can even set up scheduled payments. I only wish I knew this a few years back.

I paid some bills this morning and it took me less than 5 minutes and I didn't have to fart around with stamps, envelopes, paper cuts on my tongue, and THEN try to figure out just when I was going to get to the post office to mail them.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Why Not?

One of the things we are working to pay off is a HELOC (home equity line of credit). We bought our share of stupid things with that, and most of the balance is to pay for one item that is not returnable. But we know better now, and have not used the HELOC to pay for anything for well over a year. We hope to soon be rid of it all together.

While reading the paper this morning, I saw US Bank ad for a line of credit loan. The theme of the ad was "Why Not?" Here are the items they listed as being an excellent reason to get a HELOC:

Why not upping the carats on that anniversary gift?
Why not buy an autographed baseball?
Why not a convertible two seater stick shift that the kids can't drive?
Why not a second bathroom with a steam shower?
Why not buy a dog with a better pedigree than you have?
Why not a personal trainer?
Why not see all seven wonders of the world?
Why not environmentally safe toilets?
Why not Italian ceramic tiles?
Why not anything wonderfully techy?
Why not bring back your hairline?

Wednesday, August 22, 2007


I've been sick for three weeks straight. I'm sick and tired of being sick and tired.

I finally got over my cold last week, but the head throbbing failed to go away with the rest of the symptoms. Last night it hit an all-time worse, bad enough the Pool Boy wanted to take me to the ER.

I finally went to the doctor today and got some medicine for this and am already feeling better. Of course I slept until 2:30 today so who wouldn't feel better after that?

Anyway, hopefully I'll be back in the blogging spirit. Here are some topics I've been mulling over...

  1. First day of school pics. I know you are all dying to see them. And if you aren't, at least pretend like you are. I can't find the camera cable and haven't had the energy to look very hard. One it resurfaces, I promise pictures.
  2. Sub-prime mortgages and could someone please tell me why people with bad credit were ever given these loans to begin with? And now we're surprised that they weren't able to make the mortgage payments?
  3. I'm working on a "40 before 40" list, which consists of things I want to do before I turn 40.

I'm off to yet another meeting tonight. Since I slept until 2:30 this afternoon, do not be surprised if you see that I've blogged in the very early AM hours.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Quit Complaining

I'm a fan of Steve Pavlina's website. He has an excellent post today about breaking the habit of complaining. If you have something to complain about, spend your energy fixing the problem rather than complaining. He ends his post by saying it comes down to responsibility:

  • If I'm unhappy, it's because I'm creating it.
  • If there’s a problem in the world that bothers me, I’m responsible for fixing it.
  • If someone is in need, I’m responsible for helping them.
  • If I want something, it’s up to me to achieve it.
  • If I want certain people in my life, I must attract and invite them to be with me.
  • If I don’t like my present circumstances, I must end them.

I encourage you to jump over to Steve's blog. You can literally spend hours reading through his great posts.

Buy American

Is this where we draw the line with dealing with imports? For me, possibly. I'll admit I've never put a whole lot of thought into the stuff I buy, checking to see where it was made. From now on, I'll do my best to make sure my purchases are Made in U.S.A. Please jump over to One Frugal Girl for an excellent post on this.

Here's a little story to add to the post. A few years back we were at a Fourth of July parade. They were handing out mini US flags to wave. Printed on the tiny little stick was "Made in China." I kid you not.

Friday, August 17, 2007


I'm not a mine expert, so I don't own a mine company. If you own a mine company, I would think you should have a plan for getting people pulled from the mine in case of an emergency. And now those putting their life on the line to rescue the trapped miners are getting killed. Does anyone have a damn clue as how to end this? Anyone?

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Good and Bad, but Mostly Good

Good: Pool Boy knows my stance on money now. He got a phone call the other day (for those of you who know him, I know that seems odd that he would get a phone call) and I heard him say, "Really! Is it loaded?" Well, I know the term "loaded" and I know it can cost me a lot of money. Later that night I asked him who had called him earlier. He said it was a local car dealer who knew we used to drive a very large, very expensive SUV. He had one on the lot that would be "great" for us. I asked PB why he didn't mention it to me. He replied, "Right. I knew better than to even bring that up to you." Back in our pre-frugal days, we would have jumped in the car to go see it. I'm rubbing off on him!

Bad: I'm recovering from a 2-week illness. It was horrible. I stopped the Zicam early. Don't do that.

Good: I was cleaning up one of our popular "clutter" piles and ran across a check we received for a Christmas gift for $200!

Bad: I should be in bed right now. After all, I'm still healing!

Good: The $200 will be used to purchase new shoes for PB, and the other $100 will be going toward debt.

Bad: I currently have 60 unread posts in my bloglines account. Problem is, I want to read them all. I've gotten myself into quite a dilemma with all of the frugal blogs I subscribe to now.

Good: I got paid for some work I did for a relative. That will be sent directly to debt! Awesome!

Have a great weekend, friends!

Talent Doesn't Mean Success

Every morning on my way to work, I listen to Dave Ramsey's podcast from the previous day (or in this case, dayS since I've been sick). Today I heard him talking about talent and success.

What separates the talented people from the successful people is a lot of hard work. You can be talented, have 2 or 3 degrees in an area, have background experience, etc., but if you don't work hard then it means nothing.

If you just work hard, you'll be more successful than 80% of the population. That's right - he claims 80% of people today are slackers when it comes to their job/career/ entrepreneurial pursuits. And if you work hard AND read books about personal development or about your line of work, you'll be more successful than 95% of the population. Isn't that amazing? Only 5% of the population puts that much effort into being successful!

So don't tell me about all of your talents and degrees. Tell me what you are going to do with it because that's really all that matters.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Got Food? Why, Yes We Do!

I’ve been wanting to make up weekly menus for our family for years. I never did it, simply because I was too stinkin’ lazy. Friend KP would ask me, “Why don’t you do a menu?” I would reply, “Because I don’t want to.”

I have finally put one together for this week and next. Sure, this will make me more organized. It will also make my ride home more enjoyable because I won’t be mentally going through the fridge and cupboards every night on my ride home from work. Also, we start school next week and the last thing we need to worry about is supper.

But most importantly, this is going to save us a ton of moola. Pool Boy just told me this morning, “We have no food in this house.” But amazingly enough, I was able to come up with two weeks worth of meals using all of the food we currently have in the house, plus purchasing only 9 items. I’m pretty sure I could squeeze another two weeks worth of meals out of the food we already have, plus a few items from the store. We have tons of food already on our shelves and our freezer – we just need to plan what to do with it. When we wait until the last minute to throw a meal together, we almost always end up driving to the grocery store to pick up a few things and most likely spending more money than is necessary.

I Stuck it Up My Nose. And Now I'm a Believer.

I was sick this weekend. I can think of a lot better things to do with a perfectly good weekend than lying on the couch wondering how high my temperature is.

But thank GOD for Zicam because I could have been a whole lot sicker than I was. I love that stuff. I love that I don't have to swallow nasty cold medicine. I love that I don't have to feel the "cold medicine high". All I have to do is stick a swab up my nose and DONE.
No, I'm not getting paid by the Zicam company to endorse their product. But if they want to send me a case of this stuff, I'll happily accept it.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Back To School Money Breakdown

Sounds like most of you are floored at the amount of money I've spend on school so far. Seriously? Here's the breakdown so far. Please note, though, that Pool Boy has a shoe fetish and is doing his best to pass this on to his kids. I'm picking my battles at this point, people.

Crocs for three = 29.13
Crocs for green = 31.79
Tennis shoes for green = 47.68
Tennis shoes for three = 66.23
Children's Place = 61.44
Basic school supplies = 101.73
School registration = 155.00 (includes activity passes)
TOTAL = $493.00

And this does not include the haircuts, separate PE shoes, or backpacks. I've got them talked into using their old backpacks at first since those are still in excellent shape.

As for Children's Place, this purchased was not planned. BUT, people, this is the first year I've talked Three into wearing JEANS! So I saw they were on sale at Children's Place for $9.00 so I got 4 pairs, plus a school picture shirt for each boy.

Friday, August 10, 2007

Budget Reboot

So August has been brutal to the checkbook - definitely. It's darn hard to stash away extra money when we have these things going on:

1. Annual car licenses: 394.00
2. School expenses: 493.00 and counting. We don't even have backpacks yet!

I'll keep plugging along, but I'll definately need to reboot at the end of August and really work hard at not spending money in September.

She's Our Idol!

As it turned out, American Idol does not want those with vocal performance degrees. They want people who are wearing wacky costumes or strung out on coke.


Pool Boy's baby sister is trying out for American Idol today! She has a degree in vocal performance and is AWESOME! I'll keep you updated on how she does. She's still a few hours away from auditioning, due to the fact that there are about three bizillion people there.


Here's an excellent post about increasing your income.

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Not Exactly Dave Ramsey

I've been pretty vocal about Dave Ramsey lately because his teachings have gotten me on the path to getting rid of my debt. But I need to be honest - I don't believe in everything he says so I better not tell you anymore that I'm following his plan. I am, in fact, following a zero-budgeting plan. To me, this means I try to determine where every dollar is going for the month and whatever is left over gets paid toward our debt -- which brings us back to zero at the end of each month.

So while I love Dave, here are some areas where we disagree:

1. Debt is always bad. From what I've heard, Dave is against debt unless it's for your home. However, many opportunities may require you to go into debt for the short term. For example, a now successful businessman said he never could have gotten where he is today if he hadn't gone into debt to start his business.

2. Only get a 15 year mortgage. In the real world, this would be excellent. However, when Pool Boy and I were starting out, there's no way we could have purchased our home on a 15 year mortgage. It just wasn't feasible for our income at the time. As our salaries increased, we were able to refinance to get it shortened and we now have about 11 years left (unless we get it paid off earlier!). Since we purchased our home when we did, we bought it at a ridiculously low price and now have quite a bit of equity in it.

3. Rice and beans, beans and rice. Dave said to do everything you can to get out of debt: no more entertainment, no more eating out, no more of this, no more of that, etc. While I strive to get out of debt soon, it's important that our family will still have a life and will still have fun. We will aim to cut back our expenses, but there will be no rice and beans here.

If you are into getting out of debt, here are a few blogs you might want to add to your Bloglines account (or whatever you use):

When I'm Wrong, I'll "Definately" Admit it

I’m pretty confident in my English skills and spelling ability. I know how to form a sentence. I have all of the appropriate books on my bookshelf to help me out, should I ever get in a spelling or grammar bind.

Then last night, as I was instant messaging a friend, she corrected me on a word I typed. It went something like this:

NE’smom: We need to do that
Green3: Definately
NE’smom: it’s definitely
Green3: no it’s not
NE’smom: No, I’m right. It’s definitely. I, not A.
NE’smom: Look it up online so that we know what is correct

(me, frantically searching
NE’smom: I’ve noticed that you’ve always spelled it wrong, but never said anything

And then I continued with much moaning and groaning about having to retrain my brain to spell it as “definitely” after 35 years of spelling it as “definately”. I am definitely ticked off.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Warning for Kids

Here's what can happen to you when you aren't allowed to ride your bike around town with the older kids. A nasty blanket from the garage will end up over your head and you will sit out in the yard for an hour.

**If you know Green in real life, do NOT mention this to him!

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

He's Here!

Gulliver has arrived!

He came to us from Sandy, who I won't link to because she no longer blogs. Sandy lives in the Lake Tahoe area, and when Pool Boy opened the package he assumed we had won a trip to Lake Tahoe. Sorry, PB. It's just one of my blog thingys.

So welcome, Gulliver. We'll try to make your Iowa visit enjoyable!

14 Years - Yowsa!

As of 7:30 tonight, Pool Boy and I will have been married for 14 years! It’s been a fun journey, so let’s take a look back at 14 things that have happened to us since August 7, 1993.

1. Soon after we got married, Pool Boy got his first teaching job for $14,000. We thought we were loaded so we went out and bought a brand new car (our ONLY brand new car ever) for $12,000. We saw nothing wrong with that purchase.

2. We lived in a mobile home when we were first married. I had some home d├ęcor that included those skinny candles. When we got back from our honeymoon, it had gotten so hot in our mobile home the candles had melted.

3. Instead of joining bank accounts when we got married, I just closed mine and added my name to his. I had approximately $3.42 to contribute.

4. Pool Boy was a big time saver and had tons of money. I was a big time spender and had no money, except for the $3.42 mentioned above. That has now flip flopped, in terms of spending. Now he’s the spender and I’m the saver.

5. Pool Boy was a total neat freak. Everything had its place and it HAD to be in that place or else total meltdown would ensue. I was a slob and hated anything that had to do with cleaning and organization. Pool Boy is no longer a neat freak, and I’m not quite a much of a slob as I used to be.

6. We both knew 2 kids were perfect for us.

7. We have started one business from scratch and sold it to a competitor a few years later. It was hard work, but we are glad we went through that experience.

8. We purchased another business and continue to operate that today.

9. Our honeymoon was a cruise to the Bahamas.

10. We have both run for public office and won. This was NEVER on my to-do list of life!

11. We have owned a mini-van. It was a nice one, but it was a mini-van.

12. We were in a car accident that claimed the life of someone in the other car.

13. We have lived in only two towns in our married life.

14. We bought our home before we had kids. It was the best thing we’ve ever done, financially.

15. We have fun together and we love each other. How much more could you ask for?

I'm Fading! Fading! Oh — What a World, What a World!

The budgeting was going great, until it went all to hell.

First of all, the laptop decided that yeah, he’d run ok but like HELL is he going to let me see anything! (That translates into “monitor went out”.) We’ve had the desktop monitor plugged in for a week or so, but that just wasn’t cutting it. So we had to buy a new one.

Then school shopping. And then our anniversary. I know the anniversary dinner wasn’t necessary, but we rarely get out with just the two of us. If we’re without kids, we’re usually with friends. So there.

If anyone can tell me where I copied this blog post heading from (and then tweaked it a little), you'll win...well, nothing. You'll just win.

Monday, August 06, 2007

Money Traps to Avoid

Thanks to basenjimom for posting these 10 money traps to avoid!

1) Not having a goal and a plan to achieve it - Our goal is simply to be debt-free in 3.5 years, including the mortgage. We are watching each penny each month and try to keep not to go through so many pennies!

2) Not being willing to change your behaviour - Ok, so this step has been especially hard. It's going to take us a few months to get to the point where we need to be. This weekend, for example, we went out for dinner and drinks Saturday night, went out for lunch on Sunday because we were out school shopping, etc. Tomorrow is our anniversary, so we are going out for dinner alone and without kids, which we NEVER do. Yes, we are struggling with this but I am going to make sure this happens!

3) Not paying off your credit card debt each month - We don't have any credit card debt, so this one is easy.

4) Making only the minimum payment on your credit card debt - Ditto, no credit card debt.

5) Failing to save at all, or to save enough to be realistic - After all bills have been paid, investments have been made, etc., I've committed to putting $500 into a savings account. The remaining balance goes toward debt.

6) Waiting too long to save for long term financial goals - We're not putting away as much as I'd like to be. This will increase tremendously after debt is gone.

7)Failing to take advantage of your employeers 401k plan - I'm taking advantage of this and plan to up my percentage in November.

8) Not having any, or enough, life insurance - We currently have 250,000 on each of us, which I don't think is nearly enough. If one of us goes, the other one better never have to worry about money again. It's on my to-do list to up this amount by quite a bit.

9) Overinvesting in company stock - I currently own some company stock, but if all should go belly up I'll be fine investment-wise. I will NOT be fine salary wise!

10) Letting emotion drive decisions - I've gotten pretty good about this. Pool Boy could use some help, though. Zero turn mower sitting in the garage? I'm pretty sure emotions played a part in that purchase.

Friday, August 03, 2007


Personality can open doors, but only character can keep them open.

-Elmer G. Leterman

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Crazy Budget Lady

Over the past month, I've turned into a new person. I went from this girl, "Ooohhh. That's cool. Let's buy it!" to this girl: "Are you kidding me? You want to fill the tank with gas? Like all the way to the top? Do you have any idea how much that will cost?"

Oh yeah. I'm now a Crazy Budget Lady.

I'm totally addicted to saving money, not spending money, paying off debt, reading frugal blogs, scouring websites for information, etc. I've seen how much money we can save each month if we just pay attention to our expenses and it's exciting.

One thing that shocked me was how completely ignorant we've been throughout our married lives. We've only balanced a checkbook for probably 3 months over the past 14 years. We've always had a healthy savings account, so we spent money simply because we could. How crazy is that? Now I know that while having loans for cars, a home, furniture, etc. is the norm for most people, that is not the life I want to live any more.

I want to live a life where I'm not strapped to monthly payments, I can afford to take my kids on vacations without charging them, I can be generous with my money by donating to causes that are important to me, and so on. I want my kids to know that taking out loans is a way to buy the "wants" in life.

Things I've done to save money today:

  1. Brought my lunch to work.
  2. Brought my afternoon caffiene fix from home instead of raiding the pop machine at work.

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Saving - August 1

What I've done today to save money:

  1. Worked from home, so didn't spend gas driving 60 miles.
  2. Hung laundry on line to dry instead of putting it in the dryer.
  3. Ordered a book through Paperbackswap instead of buying it.

The Dave Ramsey Plan - Month 1

July was our first month of working toward paying off our debts. Last night after our “budget meeting”, the extra amount being sent toward debt is $800. II expected more, but I can deal with that. 800 is better than zero.

By keeping track of every penny, here are some things we found out about how we spend money:

  • We are still spending way too much on eating out. In July we spent $161.36. That doesn’t include eating out on vacation because Pool Boy’s business paid for all non-hotel vacation expenses.
  • “Fun” expenses (hotel on vacation, golfing, book stores, clothes, etc.) were too high, coming in at $668.61.
  • We spent $528.32 on groceries, which I didn’t think was too bad for a family of four. We made small trips all month just to get milk, bread, etc. Toward the end of the month, we did one big trip to Super Target to stock up on groceries. I love that place for groceries!

We actually had a larger amount that could have done toward debt at the end of this month, but then we figured in the following:

  • $500 will remain in savings each month, so we subtracted that out.
  • Property taxes are due in September, so we subtracted that amount out.
  • We did not use any of Pool Boy's business income because he's going to pay for his mower at the end of the summer.

Next month we’ll have back to school expenses: registration, shoes, supplies, etc., so I expect we’ll end up with about the same amount available to go toward our debt.

Living Like No One Else!

Quote of the Day

To avoid criticism, do nothing, say nothing, be nothing.

-Elbert Hubbard-