Sunday, October 13, 2013

Budgets and Financal Planning, UHHHGGGGGGGG!!!

So, I have working on a few projects lately. I have been trying to re-do our family budget and get some things paid off, I worked on the yard some, I have a container garden going for the fall, and still have a list of projects for church. The budget is what I have spent most of the last week on. I have downloaded free programs or trials, and in-put in my info, but yet none still meet my needs. One program wasn't easy to use, yet it had a great list of budget line items to keep track of everything, even regular gifts and Christmas gifts. So, I tried to print the report with all of the line items, it wouldn't print!
Over the years I have used lots of different programs and books. None ever met my needs exactly, so I would stop using them and let them fall away. The best things I ever did was just to use a pencil and notebook, but even that has it's downfalls. (My handwriting is almost as bad as my spelling!)
Years ago, we had a bank account with a small local bank. It was totally free checking, but they had no ATM/debit card. They plain checks were free and no limits on writing them. But, they did not process digitally, so Walmart couldn't take them. The lobby was open 9am to 5pm M-F & 9-Noon on Saturday's and the drive-thru was open 7-7, M-Saturday! The plus to this, you might over spend by writing checks, but you couldn't over spend by hitting the ATM or with a swipe of the card. Back then, things were tight for us. To avoid over spending, we decided not to write any checks. We spent only cash, went to the bank to withdraw funds and got money orders to pay the bills. We could only spend what we had in our pockets, if we didn't have enough and the bank was closed.... oh well!
I had set up an envelope system back then for the bills. I would write the bill name, due date, and amount on the outside. I would “fund” the envelope throughout the month, as I added or took away money, I keep a running balance. I also put the months down, as I paid for each month, I crossed it off so I knew when the payday came around if I needed to fund that envelope or not. If emergency repairs came up, I would go to the different envelopes and decide if we could borrow from it for that month. Yes, I had entertainment envelope and other extra's so borrowing from them was easy. We both knew where we stood financially all the time.
Now a days, we have all the bills being paid by bank draft automatically, it's sometimes hard to keep track of and remember when they are supposed to hit! On top of that, there a few bills being paid by check, so waiting for them to clear and checking the bank balance has become an everyday job. After keeping up with all of that, I found we have forgotten to budget for the extra's. We don't have much in the way of college savings for the boys. I also don't have much of an emergency fund. I try, but sometimes it just gets treated like an extra windfall of funds to do something fun with.
I have been working on different parts of our finances over the last year. We have been working on our credit ratings, and improving them. We have opened some new lines of credit, paid off the car, and now I need to get the FULL budget planned. I challenged my church family to up their personal tithe's, we are doing that as well. We have enjoyed our summer and paid the bills, but we did not really follow a budget. Now it's time to buckle down!
I still have to plan some more of the budget out, but at this point I am going to tell you, we are going to live very tightly for awhile, so we can be free to enjoy more later on! My goal is to have at least $2500.00 in the savings account at all times. Yes, that's a lot of money, but when an emergency hits it's usually close to $1000.00! Also, that will be enough to cover the bills for 1 or 2 months. We have some credit card debit and a few other loans we need to just pay off and get off the books. We need to start saving for a new/2nd car and would like to think about buying a house down the road. All of those we could get better rates and lower payments if we plan ahead and save for.
What financial challenge do you want to take on? Give yourself a goal for something, and make a plan to reach it. Small steps are just as good as large ones! Tell me about it, and I'll tell you about mine. I want to be held accountable and encouraged, I want to share in my celebrations. Put God first in these decisions and ask Him for direction, then listen and go for it. He will reward hard work.

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Yard work!!!

So, we live in a rented townhouse. We have great space and like our neighbors. The problem is the HOA lawn care. It's awful and has been causing problems with bugs, ants in particular. The last time they trimmed between the driveways was in the beginning of July. The ants have been a huge problem and we have found them attacking dead bugs in the garage so it is safe to assume that any dead bugs in the grass/ weeds are also feeding the ant population. So, we have been treating the ground around the house with any bait stations, but they have become in-effective. While on a shopping trip to Lowe's/Home Depot, Marty purchased a string trimmer. He then spent a few hours cutting all the grass around the house and between the driveway.

Once he was done, I realized that he couldn't get everything really good because the neighbor had some pots with weed growth wrapped around them and making it hard to trim around. So, we left a patch un-trimmed and I talked to the neighbor a few days later. After being told that only 1 pot had a real plant in it, I asked if I could remove them and clean the area more. That started the fun. As I pulled a huge weed out of a half empty pot, I found out, (real quick) all the dirt had been replaced with a Fire Ant NEST! So, I quickly dropped the pot and weed, grabbed the ant/bug spray and soaked it all down. I did this several more times, after stirring up the dirty and pot more. Then I moved the 1 "plant", it was sitting up against the house and had what looked like a dirt piled up on 1 side. Nope, another Fire Ant Nest! So, more spraying and stirring.

Now, I started to find that we needed to do something bigger to control the weeds and the ants. So, I started to dig up some granite tiles the neighbor had put down years earlier, she was hoping to control the weed growth. Then I got out my landscape fabric and went shopping for rocks! The boys and I spent about 2 days and under $50 to clean up the space and cover it with rocks. We even washed the tiles off and re-used them. The color of the rocks looks great, after a good washing!
Yes, I used a fireplace screen to help hold down the fabric while pouring the rocks.

We are still trimming the space between the driveways, even went ahead and cut the neighbors weeds on the other side of their driveway, found another Fire Ant NEST over there, but we treated it quickly. Before the project, I was getting bit at least once per week while just sitting in my garage watching the kids play. I can report now, I haven't gotten bit since we did this work. That's $50 well spent!

Friday, October 11, 2013

Baseball time again!!

Andy has started baseball again. His first game was 2 weeks ago, last week game was canceled because of the rain and wind. He has only 4 more games, they only play for 6 weeks. This group is a great group for these kids who can't play at the same level as their peers. I wish Andy would try harder, and don't think this will make him try harder. But I am grateful that even tho' he doesn't have a drive to play sports, he at-least gets a chance to play in a way that allows him joy.What you can't see very well is, Andy is at 2nd base.

There are a few kids that would never have a chance to say, "I play baseball." These kids find the fun playing with this group. I can't say enough good things about them. They are The Miracle League of Frisco. They are part of the nation wide organization, we chose the Frisco one because of it's location and the other sports they offer. I hope you folks check them out.

Speaking about checking out, come on out to a ball game. This Saturday, (October 12th) it's at 11:30am. The next week, 10:30am, and then 9:30am. The final game is at 8:30am, you see that pattern? The only double times was the first game at 8:30am and last weeks rained-out game was 11:30am. The games are only 1 hour. Come a cheer these kids on.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Another great shopping trip!

So, about 2 weeks ago I did a marathon shopping day. I took Marty to work so we could have the car, Andy had a Eye Dr. appt. We did 5 stores. I spent $261.36 and have enough food to last 2-3 months. It's hard to say all of my exact savings were, lots of my shopping was just getting the best price, not using bunches of coupons. I did use some, and some stores will still give you the savings compared to their own regular prices. So here is some of the run down;
Albertson's, Total spent- $112.65, Savings calculations on the receipt- $203.47
Tom Thumb; Total $32.26, Savings $11.75
El Rancho; $57.90
Fiesta; $8.54- is what I paid for- 6 cans of spaghetti sauce, 35 oz of spaghetti pasta, 35 oz of elbow noodles, and 3 lbs onions.
Rio Grande; $50.01- 8 lbs of sugar, 10 lbs of potatoes, 1 loaves of bread, 3 pack tortillas, chip, 4 lbs bnls/skls chicken, 3 pks bologna, 4 pks hot dogs, 6 frozen pizzas, 2 heads of lettuce, over 2 lbs of pears, and over 1 lb bananas.

What did I get?????

Things like canned and frozen veggies, soups, cookie mixes, toilet paper, facial tissues, pizza rolls, biscuits, coffee, canned tomatoes, crackers, pork tenderloins, tilapia fillets, cheese slices and shredded, butter, BBQ sauce, mayo, canned chili (for hot dogs), salad dressing, bananas, pears, lettuce, tomatoes, pizzas, corn tortillas, flour tortillas, tortilla chips, sandwich bread, hot dog buns, hamburger buns, bologna, sugar, bnls/skls chicken, hot dogs, cantaloup, gr. peppers, onions, cilantro, cucumbers, bacon, smoked sausage, chorizo, gr. beef, cabbage, ketchup, cheeseburgers, turkey roasts, spaghetti sauce, pasta noodles, and potatoes.
Not bad..... not all are convenience foods but some are, we like to make quick lunches and I like to have a quick meal on hand if church runs late or we have other things going on.

The kids and I spent an afternoon making an inventory list of just the pantry and freezers. (Small deep freezer and refrigerator freezer.) For those who know me, I got a small deep freezer for $25 at the church yard sale, it works great! My list ended up being 4 pages long after I typed it up. We check off items as we use them and plan meals without opening the freezer. I have been doing this for years, of course usually its a smaller list. When we were still moving around, I would make the inventory list about 5 weeks out from a move, then plan meals to use it all up. I couldn't move the refrigerated or frozen stuff, and panty items just take up space and weight. I still deal shopped when we were moving, I just didn't stock up so much. Right now we have 8 large cans of tomatoes and 5 regular sized ones!

I have always said, if you want any help with shopping, just ask. I love helping others and am more than willing. I recognize that frugal shopping is a God given gift. I enjoy sharing that gift with others. Even if you don't live in the Dallas area, I can help you find the deals for your area.

A little rant about being a SAHM! (Stay At Home Mom)

I just read some comments to blog post about being a SAHM and how hard the job really is. In the comments, folks called it a "Mommy competition." 
I am one, proudly! I also homeschool my boys. I just spent the morning climbing on the roof to clear the dryer vent. Why, so I could do the laundry! I could have waited for my husband to come home and do it, but then what time would I have left to spend with my husband?
Life is filled with choices, every woman can be a SAHM. EVERY woman, even the single ones. I knew a woman that was a SAHM while she raised 7 kids, home-schooled them and did it after her husband left 2 days after delivery of #7.
I have been a SAHM while following my husband’s career of traveling around the country, moving every 3-6 months. We choose to have only 1 car, eat out rarely and to be tight with our money. We can afford for me to stay home because we choose to.
I don’t think it’s a competition, it’s a choice. I wouldn’t choose to work, because that would be a choice to allow others to raise my sons. I wouldn’t choose to send my boys to public school, because that would mean allowing others to decide what they are to learn. Both would also allow others to reap the rewards of watching my kids grow, their joy when getting a math problem that was difficult, or reading for the first time.
You say that you couldn’t be a SAHM yourself, why not? Most answers I get to that question…., “My kids would drive me nuts!” I say, but if you were the one setting the standards and rules, along with enforcing them, how could your children be so crazy? They would know what was expected of them, the rules wouldn’t be changing based on who was in charge, so their behavior would be more in tune to what you want.
Then there is the thought that I am in some way judging those who choose to be working moms. I am not judging you, I am stating way I choose to be at home. My priorities are what they are for me. Yes, you could take my arguments against "kids driving you crazy" as a judgment. But I just can stand people putting the blame of their choice on the kids. It's not the kids that are keeping you out of the home, it's your choice!
If you think you can't choose to stay home because of money, your wrong. It is not about money, it's about the money you think you need to have/spend. No one ever goes to court and tells the judge, "He forced me at gun point to buy a new car every 2 years!" No, that is a choice. I choose to be frugal and to plan my shopping and meals around a price that I am willing to spend. 
There are so many other things in our lives these days, that are NOT choices. I did not choose for my son to have Spina Bifida. But I did choose to love every day and every moment I have with him. I can choose how I deal with it. Hiding from the hard truth and hard work is not going to make him be the best he can be. It's the hard work that I chose to do that has allowed him to walk without braces or crutches or walkers. It's the choices we made that allowed him to receive the care he needed to make him the best he can be. If I had hide from it or given up because it was going to be too much hard work.... I would have done what the Doctors wanted me to do, ABORT. But I didn't run from it, I didn't give up because it was hard work. I faced it head on not knowing if he would ever walk or even if it would take his life, I faced the unknowns and the hard work head on. And I am reaping the rewards every day!
So, I am not judging you for your choice, I am judging you for your excuses and for placing blame were it should never be placed, on your children!
So, yes... I am ranting a little. Don't take offense, just be truthful to yourselves.