My St Johns River

I made a small budgeting error today

myadmin, · Categories: budget

but had for the first-time ever no stress over it! For me, this was a small affirmation that what we’re doing here matters.

So, somehow I miscalculated my budget, leaving my credit union account 94-cents short for the payments I made toward the bills, home etc. I didn’t realize because my work wrote my health insurance reimbursement check and I didn’t have time to deposit it this morning and simultaneously my last bill payment hit the account today. Anywho, the cu automatically transferred over 94-cents from the savings (which holds my EF) and although they normally charge a fee I am sure they’ll waive it as a courtesy when I go up tomorrow (gotta love credit unions).

This brought me back to a time when I remember living off overdraft “protection” – as though it was some sort of high interest loan. Just a few years ago I remember almost every month feeling thankful that Chase Bank would allow me to OD $300. But then I remember the fear of each $35 OD fee, and then the extended OD fees of $27 a week, and sometimes the insufficient funds fees when I would go over the $300 (or sometimes just because the fees ate at such a large portion of the $300 that I didn’t realize I was there yet!). Their courtesy had me always behind and always “needing” to owe them a little money in the future to pay the bills today. How backwards this was!

Seeing my account in the red for a moment today, not being panicked because i KNOW what bills needed to be covered this pay period have been already, knowing I had some money in savings to cover the error, and having a check and cash in my wallet… well, the me 3 years ago would not have imagined such a thing.

I’m hoping this is a trend

myadmin, · Categories: finance

We’ve been putting money in savings and withdrawing it almost as fast for the past several months. I’m happy to report our business has had two “in the black” months and no money had to be withdrawn from cash reserves! We raised rates and it seems to have made us solvent. It’s been a struggle every month trying to work harder and longer to make ends meet, but we finally got the rate increases out to our clients and we are starting to see the benefits. Right now we are just happy to have a little breathing room and paying all our bills on time! Soon, I will be able to get back into baby step #3 for our home account, I hope!

That is an awesome report!

myadmin, · Categories: finance

So happy for you and both your wins. I’m sure you will figure out where that money went. I realized that dh and I are the same way when it comes to savings. He likes the big account and I don’t.

My experiment with cash-only continues, in generally a favorable way

myadmin, · Categories: budget, finance

Took pains to learn from the first round of errands such that this latest round of errands went more smoothly. Working with $20s was definitely easier. One critical flaw I’ve discovered in my envelopes organization is that I divided up the envelopes according to purchase type, ie people food vs livestock feed versus hardware vs healthcare needs, etc. Those categories match our Quicken categories and seemed a logical way to organize. Yet at two of my stops, I regularly purchase items from more than one of those envelopes. That worked out OK the first time because I just segregated everything in advance. But this past Friday, I forgot to do that each time and that really messed up the accounting in my envelopes. Furthermore, somewhere in that tangle I made a $13 mistake that I haven’t found yet. That really annoyed me yesterday when I tried to track that down. So for the moment I’ve taken it out of my blow money envelope. That was a nice feeling to know that even a mistake was covered. But today I’ve got all the receipts on my desk and I hope to go back through my math and find some computational error. I’m pretty sure I didn’t just lose or drop $13 along the way, or overspend somewhere, so it’s hopefully just me writing something down wrong and/or adding/subtracting it wrong.

That actually brings up something interesting, with both good/bad aspects. When using the debit card, it was relatively mindless. Just whip out the card, who cares about addition, subtraction or categories? But when handling cash from different envelopes, every last penny counts. And there are several places where user error can creep in and trip up the balances – handing over too much/too little cash, writing down the amounts wrong, doing the addition/subtraction wrong, etc. So now I’m spending more time actually calculating how much each purchase will be and then balancing out each transaction afterwards. More time than I expected but it automatically gives me a better idea of how much I’ve really spent and how much I have left also read about payday loans and bad credit “five ways to overcome bad credit in your report”.

One interesting little oddity. I have discovered that one of my stops, a mom-n-pop feed store, is very casual with their change practices. Bought $194.03 worth of feed? Heck, let’s just fudge those numbers and say it was an even $194 and skip giving all that change back. They’ve done that to me now three times in the space of 10 days. One wonders how they balance their tills at night. So I’m thinking to carry a little change purse with me, separate from the envelopes, so that I can always make change. The good news is, my change jar is growing. We haven’t decided what to spend it on yet, but I’ve turned into quite the change counter.

And yes, I’ve now experienced that phenomenon that DR describes of “shoot, I only have X amount left in my envelope, don’t want to blow it on something stupid….”

The big bummer news of the week is that my beloved old truck has sprouted a slow but steady leak from the gas tank. Nothing like filling up at the pump KNOWING that some fraction of that purchase will be lost! One night I dreamt I was leaking dollar bills out of my gas tank. So that goes in today to get fixed. I had wanted to hang onto that money towards more significant truck repairs that I know are coming soon, but I can’t ignore leaking gas. The good news there is that my brand-spanking-new sinking funds system was inoculated with my most recent paycheck, which should be enough to cover the repairs. So that’s a nice feeling even though Murphy has been having some fun at my expense this past week.

I guess there’s one more interesting update. My DH has been watching this all unfold with growing curiosity and respect for the benefits of the system, even though he has no interest in converting over himself. Somehow as a result, we’ve suddenly come to an understanding that he and I need to set up and use money in different ways, because we’re different people. What works for him wouldn’t always work for me and vice versa. So our recent disagreement about sinking funds has just sort of evaporated into nothing. I’ll have my sinking funds and take great comfort from that, and he’ll have one big savings account and take comfort from that, and we won’t try to convert the other. That was a nice bonus along the way.


myadmin, · Categories: budget

Thats the sound I just heard as I cut up two credit cards.
Bye bye First Premier Bank Cards!
Bye bye horrible interest rates (25.99%)
Bye bye annual fee ($79 per card)
Bye bye monthly servicing fee ($6 per card)
…. that chopping yields me $302 extra dollars per year. Yeah that’s right – it was costing me $302 no matter if I borrowed a dime on those awful cards.
They were all I could get in 2008 when I thought I needed them to “fix my credit score.”
I remember in 2009, after my score shot up I called them and asked for a credit increase (because I learned that the higher my available borrowing power, my score may go up more… which by the way, is backwards reasoning). They said, no we can’t increase your limit, but we’ll send you another card. So yeah, that meant another annual fee and another monthly servicing fee. Ha! But I did it, thinking at the time it was a smart move.
Chop chop to that mentality too!

Good budget plan

myadmin, · Categories: budget

We laid out a good budget plan for the paycheck BEFORE it was received. We paid off two credit cards (see previous post entitled “chop chop.”)

It was a nice big pay check with an extra large bonus pay for my big September sales. So we paid off those cards, reserved a little extra for a trip and now have the cash to buy a car for Dh to replace the one he’s turning in.

We took a small cash-only road trip over the weekend to New Orleans (a 5.5 hour drive from Houston). It was an interesting experience taking a cash-only vacation! It might sound silly but since Dh is usually more guilty than I about buying “top quality” everything, I did a fun little experiment this weekend to make him more budget aware. Usually he or I just pay for our things “together.” And usually this amounts to me seeing he is buying a prime rib, so I in turn order a soup and salad to off set the cost (he just doesn’t get it). Not this weekend, I divided the budget – here’s your cash and here’s mine, and did this for each day. When its gone its gone!

Day one: Dh and I compared spending and he blew me out of the park. I spent maybe $60 and he spent nearly $120. I poked fun at him, asking how he spent twice as much and we had all the same experiences, saw the same musical shows, enjoyed ourselves just the same… but my fun cost less.

Day two: Dh was actually the one to ask me if we could split our dinner (since clearly the portions are gigantic). And he also caught a bartender over charging him for a drink, per menu price. It became a fun competition from there on out, with us seeing who saved the most money each evening.

We still did everything we wanted to do, visited a bunch of fun places, but I didn’t rush home to check my credit card or bank account in a panic (as I have done many, many times on past trips because I just KNEW we would overspend somewhere). Not this time! We took $400 and that covered several musical shows, drinks, dinners, transportation, souvenirs, a historical walking tour of the city, fuel and an oil change. Dh even bought me a sweatshirt Saturday night out of his portion of the budget, and haggled the sales lady down $10.

Dh and I are going to check out a potential car to buy cash tonight… I hope it is as good in person as it sounds and looks in photos!

The thing I like

myadmin, · Categories: budget, finance

if you can like anything about debt – is that my kids 23, 20, and 18 have learned that “debt stinks” the two oldest have/are putting themselves through school with zero debt. My eldest paid for her wedding in cash. While they do have credit cards, they pay them off monthly and never pay interest – which is something we have pounded into their heads – even though their father and I have not been as successful, they have learned from our mistakes.

My kids are amazing and have more money in the bank at their ages than DH and I have ever had. They all work, they all go to school (they eldest is done but heading for her masters shortly) and they did it all themselves and have no debt.