Saturday, January 31, 2009
In today’s uncertain times, it isn’t enough to plan on Social Security covering your retirement. The debt that the government took on in the recent financial bailout will strain the federal budget for many years to come, making cutbacks in Social Security and Medicare even more likely. Your retirement security rests in your own hands now more than ever.
It’s never too late to start saving for retirement, but the sooner you can start socking money away the better off you’ll be. Use time and the potential of compound interest to your advantage and begin saving for retirement as early as you can.
Think about this: Let’s assume you can save $500 per month for retirement and will earn approximately 7%. If you start at age 35, you’ll end up with about $613,000 at age 65. If you start earlier, at age 25, you’ll end up with well over twice as much – around $1,320,000.
One of the easiest ways to save is to have money put into a 401(k), 403(b), or SEP account through your employer. Money is taken out of your salary before taxes, so the funds go into the account tax-deferred. Additionally, your employer will most likely match your contributions up to a certain percentage. Automatic deductions make it easy, so there’s really no reason not to take advantage of such plans. If your employer doesn’t offer a retirement program or you’d like to supplement what you already have, consider an IRA.
How much you’ll need in retirement largely depends on the lifestyle you wish to lead. As a general rule of thumb, financial experts recommend saving enough to replace at least 70 percent of your pre-retirement income for retirement. For a household with a $100,000 annual income, that would be $70,000. However, if you tend to ramp up activities like eating out and traveling during your retirement like so many couples do – you’ll need to plan on having more.
Assignment: Calculate the amount you will need for retirement. Here's a great tool to use: How Much Will I Need To Save For Retirement? - Financial Calculators from CalcXML Are you on track? If not, make saving for retirement a part of your budget today.
**I'm 20, I guess we should get started. How does this work if I'm a SAHM...? I think I'll go back to work when our son is in school.
Friday, January 30, 2009
Set Budget: 280$
1/30 Grocery Recipts
(4) Juicy Juice
(2) 4pk Cottonelle TP
(2) Rice Krispie Treats
(2)boxes Nature Valley Granola bars
(2)boxes Chex Mix Bars
(2)cans Black Beans
(2)boxes Jiffy corn bread mix
16 pk string cheese
(3)bags of shredded cheese
2 things of ground beef
(4)2 liters pepsi
(3)Lean Cusine Frozen Meals
(3)Tombstone Frozen Pizzas
(2)boxes Hot Pockets
(2)bags Doritos chips
Keebler Party mix
(2)bags ranch flavored goldfish
bag of fritos
(2) 2pk beechnut goodnight baby food(GRR, they dont sell my sons favorite kind at walmart anymore)
(4)pks lunch meat
Frozen bean burrito
Saved(coupons and including store card): 48.45$
(14)jars beechnut baby food
Left of Budget: 162.60$
Set Budget: 240$
LOL, This is the good numbers!
Coupons and Store savings: 75.64$
Buidling Your Emergency Fund
Emergencies happen. Cars break down. Kids get sick. People lose jobs. Those are simple facts of life. It’s not a matter of if they happen -- it’s more of when. Don’t act like a victim when life happens to you, but instead be prepared.
Add a rainy day fund to you budget. If you don’t have one at all, start out with a goal of having $1,000 set aside, continuing the spending freeze until you do. Then, after you've paid off consumer debt, increase that goal to having three months’ of living expenses set aside. When you’re completely debt-free and building up retirement savings as well, increase that goal to six months or more. In a tough economy like this one, especially if your job isn’t secure, you may want to save up to twelve months’ of living expenses.
Building up savings and paying down debt is a true balancing act. Here is a great article to read to better understand the order in which you should be paying things down and building certain accounts: Couples can navigate around perils of debt - USATODAY.com
*I love this!! The boyfriend and I did taxes today! We are saving what we're getting back! It's around a months living expense, so I will feel soooooooooo much better!
A place for everything and everything in its place. That’s the goal that most families are striving for. Unfortunately, it’s easier said than done. Taking a look at how your household functions can help you come up with creative solutions for keeping your belongings in check.
• Analyze the Space
Keep your goals for how the space should function in mind as you attempt to keep it organized. For example, if your goal for the bedroom is to have it serve as a sanctuary for you and your spouse, it’s not a good idea to keep your home computer there. This means you may have to move some things around and store them elsewhere. Revisit what you had written down for the ideal vision of each room in your house.
• Focus on Trouble Spots
Pay special attention to trouble spots like kitchen counters, utility drawers, and basements that are used as common “dumping grounds.” Keep the things you use most frequently in easily accessible spots, and store the rest.
• Successful Storage
Store similar items together whenever possible, in a place close to where they’re used. Purchase storage solutions that make organization simple and easy. Clear containers that allow you to see what’s inside work well. For things that need to be stored out in the open, pick something attractive such as a decorative basket. Anticipate future storage needs and leave some empty space.
Label boxes, folders and containers accordingly, so there is no questions what belongs where. This makes it easy for everyone in your family to quickly put things away. For kids, use photos instead of words when labeling storage units.
The final step of creating a clutter-free space is to freshen it up and make it truly reflect the person you are and hope to become. A little change can go a long way in stimulating a fresh start, whether it’s financially or simply motivating you to achieve your dreams.
A quick way to change your point of view (literally) is to move your furniture around. Feng shui principles suggest beds should be placed so that you can see the entrance. In your workspace, avoid placing your back to the door as well (or, use a mirror so you can see people as they enter). Make sure hallways are clear of obstructions to allow energy to move freely.
Plants and flowers symbolize life and growth, so be sure to incorporate them as much as possible in your living environment. Shrubs and blooms can be found in your own backyard. Combine them with great vases/decorative stones from the Dollar Store and you have a gorgeous arrangement for a couple bucks. You can do the same thing with fruit: apples, lemons and limes look great in glass hurricanes or decorative bowls. They add a burst of color and can be consumed when you’re done using them as décor.
A Fresh Coat of Paint
One of the least expensive yet most effective ways of making a room look new is to give it a fresh coat of paint. Consider what you’d like to be feeling when you’re in the room. Warm colors energize and stimulate (red, yellow, orange) and cool colors tend to calm and relax (blue, green, purple). Look for mistinted paint at your hardware store to save 75% or more off the original price. Sometimes you can even ask to have it tinted again to something that is closer to the color you want.
Review your list of 100 dreams and incorporate as much imagery as possible – on walls, screensavers, in frames, etc. If you want a better relationship with your spouse, make sure you have plenty of photographs of the two of you in happy times around your house. If you enjoy travel, display artwork or posters of the places you’d like to visit. The more you focus on those images – whether consciously or subconsciously, the more likely they are to materialize.
Assignment: Keep going with 15 minutes of decluttering and organization each day. Keep the images of what you want your ideal space to look like in mind. Think of ways to incorporate your dreams into your living space.
*I love the ideas about building a better relationship with your spouse, or in my case, boyfriend. LOL Should I post wedding pictures EVERYWHERE so he gets the hint...LOL. I still need to post our little board about our family dreams.
*A trouble area is my bedroom. Its also my desk area! My closet is a MESS, so with decluddering going on, I've posted clothes on mommysavers to trade for other stuff LOL...lovely.
*We painted our room when I was pregnant...the color is weird now.
*I'd love to decorate my bathroom so it looks more adult like. I'd love to put a buddha in there!!
ahhh, I've got alot of stuff to do!
Monday, January 26, 2009
Why do you hang on to things?
For the sentimentalists among us, memory clutter is the hardest type to get rid of. Certain things remind us of special times (high school, college) or special people (relatives, our kids when they were babies. The key is to select a few things to hold onto that have special meaning and toss the rest.
Things are not a substitute for memories. Often this is the case when hanging on to items that once belonged to special people who are now deceased. When it comes to family heirlooms and memorabilia, do you love it enough to display it within your home? Does it have a place of honor? If not, it may be time to part ways. Tell all family members you can no longer store Grandma’s collection of doilies at your home and give them ample opportunity to take it off your hands. Then, your conscience will be clear.
• Create a Memory Album
This works well for kids’ artwork. Instead of hanging on to each “masterpiece;” consider a photo album of their art and keep only a few of their drawings instead. Photograph them with their art to create a reference point for how old they were when they created it as well.
• Shadowboxes/Framed Art
If your grandmother was a great cook, consider framing or shadowboxing one of her handwritten recipes along with one of her doilies or hand-stitched tea towels with a photo of her in the kitchen.
“I Might Need It” or “I Paid So Much for It!” Clutter
If you’re living the frugal life, you realize the value in hanging on to what you have because it would be costly to replace it. However, when you cling to things you really aren’t using, you’re projecting an energy of lack, or want. There is a fine line between the “waste not, want not” mentality and one of a pack rat. The key is learning how to balance the two. If you really do need an extra pot holder, semi-dressy sweater or book on gardening one day, would you be able to replace it? If the answer is yes, consider getting rid of it and you’ll shift your energy to that of abundance.
All those things you’re storing in your home come with a price, and it isn’t the price you paid when you bought them. That boat sailed long ago. Your price is NOW paid in the time it takes to maintain them, the mental strain you experience every time you think about them, and the lost opportunity of what could be if you they were no longer around. Consider what you’d gain by getting rid of them, and if the benefit outweighs the price, then do it.
Now that we've talked about why we hang onto things, what kind of space we want to create in our homes, and making room for our dreams and goals comes the fun part... actually diving in and getting it done!
As you de-clutter, your unwanted belongings generally fall under one of three categories: throw away, donate or sell. Sorting them accordingly can help speed the process along. However, it’s often tough to decide what to do.
Donating may be the easiest and fastest route to take, but many people shy away from it because it doesn’t result in a nice fat wad of cash in their pocket. What it does result in, in most cases, is a tax receipt for your contribution. The amount of this financial perk can vary greatly depending on your tax bracket and whether or not you itemize on your tax return. In general, the higher your tax bracket the more valuable your write-off will be. Decide what makes the most sense for you given your own financial situation and time constraints.
Including your kids in the de-cluttering process helps hone their organizational skills and builds self-esteem. Let them decide which of their belongings to keep and which to get rid of. Talk about the importance of giving to those in need and let them help select a charitable organization for their donation. Have them accompany you when you drop off their things.
The key to a lot of large projects is starting small and just plodding along. Instead of thinking of the huge scope of the entire project, what can you do in 15 minutes today? As with most things, success isn't one huge thing that you do in a short period of time, it's an accumulation of small everyday activities. If there are things you want to do in life, whether it's decluttering or working on a goal -- try just focusing a few minutes each day on it and see where that road leads you.
Assignment: Commit to declutter 15 minutes each day for the remainder of the boot camp. Consider taking "before" pictures today to compare to the end of the project.
Does anyone watch clean house? I have the problem of "I might need this" clutter! Its on my to-do list...and I'm excited!
Getting in the Decluttering Mindset
Your external surroundings can also help (or hinder) your dreams and goals. In the next few steps we’ll be focusing on decluttering and how it can help us all to “Forget the Joneses.”
Your home right now is a function of your current life. With your goals and dreams in mind, think about what you’d like your life to be like in the future. Is there some way you can change your home to facilitate it? By changing it slightly, it can allow yourself to grow into your ideal life.
As with most things, it’s hard to accomplish a goal without a clear plan or vision. Decluttering your home is no different. Many of us set off to “declutter” or “purge” without knowing what that really means to us or our home.
To get to the heart of this project, begin by asking yourself a few questions. Why are you decluttering? What do you hope to get out of this process? What are your goals? Do you hope to rid your home of things you no longer use or need? Or, are you getting rid of excess things in order to be able to manage your home more efficiently? Do you want to turn your clutter into extra cash by having a garage sale? Grab a notebook and write down what you hope to accomplish by participating in this phase. When you get in touch with your motivations for jumping on the decluttering bandwagon, you’ll energize the process.
Next, visualize the space you’d like to create. Go through each room in your house and imagine the perfect version of how you would like it to appear. As you visualize, also think about how you’d like the room to function. What will you be doing in it? What will you NOT be doing in it? How would you like to feel when you’re in it? What will you need to remove or add to the space to facilitate those activities and feelings? How would the furniture be arranged? What would the shelves, closets and drawers look like? Then, while the vision is still clear in your mind, write down a clear description of that vision.
Don’t rush this step. Take a long time sitting in each room and reflecting on how you’d like it to be. It’s helpful to get your spouse involved with this and talk about what you hope to accomplish together. Often spouses have completely different agendas when it comes to how rooms should function – he wants the TV front and center, you want a relaxing sanctuary in which to read, etc. If your ideas differ, try to figure out a plan so that you can each accomplish your goals.
Make Room for New Experiences
Decluttering is more than just getting rid of what you don’t want in your life anymore. It’s about creating room for new things and experiences to enter. What will getting rid of things allow you to do and accomplish? Here are some examples:
• If you want to procure new clients at work, clear out old files and create blank ones for new clients
• If you want to try your hand at writing, try clearing away some old clutter and creating a special new space for you to write
• If you want to learn a new topic, clear away old books that you’re not reading anymore to make space on your shelf for new interests
• Try clearing off your kitchen countertops to make more space for cooking if you want to hone your culinary skills
What goes around comes around. It may sound counterintuitive, but if you want something to enter your life, try giving it away. If you want friendship to enter, be a friend. If you want your spouse to be more compassionate, try showing him some compassion. The same principles work with material things. Ever notice how many women become pregnant again as soon as they give away all their baby gear? If you want to improve your wardrobe, donate old clothing to Goodwill. If you want to do more cooking from scratch, get rid of the old kitchen appliances you no longer use. With the empty space you create, the more room there will be for new things and experiences to enter. Try it and you’ll see.
Refer back to your vision of what you want your space to look like. Go one step further and imagine what feelings that space will provoke. Really think about the type of positive change you want to see in your space and in your life, and make sure your home reflects that.
Before you begin the actual work of decluttering, get in touch with your motivations for purging and visualize what you’d like the end result to be. Review your list of goals. How can you create space for these new experiences to enter your life? Write down your goals and clearly describe what you’d like each room to look like and how it should function. Take “before” photos of each room so that you will be able to see your progress later on.
**Wow! I'm going to have a blast! So Far I've done:
- decluttering of the closet...sort of. I've gone though and picked out what I dont need or want, and posted it on the mommysavers.com boards
- Made my desk area clean. I've ordered 2 journals. One is "Wreck this journal" and another is just a regular one to write in.
- On my to-do list is declutter under the bathroom sink.
Mine was for 2 Adults and an 1 year old(even though my little one is 8 months):
estimated $125.36 per week for your household
estimated $543.16 per month for your household
I spend anywhere from 120$-140$ a week! Even though I've gone over on my budget this month. :( I've decided to kick it up to 270$ for next month. Hopefully that'll make me feel better and I'll work my way down from there!
Saturday, January 24, 2009
Modified Spending Freeze
Congratulations! You made it through the spending freeze!
Here’s the deal. If you carry consumer debt, the only way to get out and to get out quickly is to continue on with the Spending Freeze. If you don’t continue on, the chances you’ll revert back to bad habits are pretty likely. Make it your goal to make it to the remainder of the FTJ Boot Camp (only three more weeks).
If you are a Boot Camp “recruit” that doesn’t carry consumer debt, you are hereby granted permission to go on a Modified Spending Freeze, with the following things in mind:
Impulse purchases are what get the majority of Americans in trouble with their finances. We are going to be working in a few more of the “wants” into your spending this month, but none of them are allowed to be impulse purchases. For the 21 days immediately following the Spending Freeze, you will need to think about something for 24 hours before you purchase it. This phase is called the Modified Spending Freeze.
Make a List, Check it Twice.
Create a second approved spending list for the Modified Spending Freeze. Go ahead and include some of the wants you’ve been avoiding purchasing since starting the Spending Freeze. However, the items must be on the list for 24 hours before you purchase them. This will help you avoid buying things you really don’t need (or could get by without) and haven’t completely thought through. Include things like clothing items your family may need, one lunch out per week (if your financial situation allows), gifts, and so forth.
Make sure that you and your spouse are in agreement about what’s on the second approved spending list. Set a dollar amount that you have to get spousal “approval” on before it is spent. It could be $20 or it could be $200: The important thing is to choose a number appropriate for your own situation. Consider your net worth statement when approving big purchases. If you have considerable consumer debt, no amount of thinking or pre-planning makes certain purchases OK. Keep that in mind.
Consider Your Mood before You Shop
Everyone knows you’re not supposed to go grocery shopping when you’re hungry. My husband can attest to that – that could be why we have enough food in our pantry to live off for several months. I can also add: Don’t go shopping for scrapbooking supplies when you’re bored or go to Old Navy when need a pick-me-up. Of course most of these emotions are temporary, but the bills aren’t.
Knowing exactly how and where you spend your money will provide you with key information about where your money goes. It will also give you valuable insight into what your spending weaknesses are and provide information about what you can improve upon.
For the remainder of the Forget the Joneses Boot Camp, account for every penny you spend. There are many ways to track your spending. It’s important for you to pick the method that is easiest for you, fits your lifestyle, and one that you can stick to.
• Keep a Spending Journal You can use your small spiral-bound notebook to do this, one that fits in your purse works well. For every item you buy, track the amount spent and to which category it belongs, such as: groceries, gas, entertainment, restaurants, clothing, and so on. (PERFECT! My grandma came to visit today and gave me a goodie bag: it included cookies, candy, a pen, a little notebook, and my favorite thing in the world...LOL little package of tissues. Then...if I can brag a little, 3 handmade quilts and 2 pillowcases)
• Save Receipts in an Envelope This is a really simple way to track spending because it doesn’t require much time. Simply grab an envelope and make sure that both you and your spouse account for all of your purchases – whether cash or credit – by placing the receipt in an envelope. If you make any purchases where a receipt isn’t available (vending machines, for example) write the amount spent and the item on the envelope itself. This works well for spouses who may be less than cooperative. It isn’t too much to ask them to simply hold onto their receipts. (This will help me clean up my planner...its a mess full of recipts!)
• Use a Program Like Quicken or Money This can be done in conjunction with keeping a spending journal or a receipt envelope and works well for those who plan on using a computer program as a part of their budgeting system. Don’t worry about categorizing the purchases right now. Simply gathering the information will be sufficient. After the end of the three weeks, we will begin to categorize your purchases so that you can create a budget.
• Use Online Sites Like Mint.com If you want to take electronic budgeting one step further, consider an online tracking site like Mint.com. Not only does Mint.com use features like Quicken and Money, it connects to your banking/credit card information nightly to automate the process even further. Best of all, it’s completely free.
Assignment: Come up with a Second "Approved" Spending List
Be a Proactive Shopper
In the weeks left of the FTJ boot camp, I want you to change the way you view your meal planning and grocery budget. Become a proactive grocery shopper vs. a reactive grocery shopper. Instead of buying something when you need it, you’ll be buying it when you can get it at the best possible price.
Continue to create meals based on what you have at home rather than what you want to eat. Then, use the money in your grocery budget to build your stockpile – with an emphasis on your frugal meals list and pantry list.
Being willing to try new things can also help you save. Are St. Louis Ribs half price this week and an additional $1.00 off with a coupon? Score! Even if you don’t regularly make ribs, that’s a great deal, and can bring the price of a typically more expensive meat down under that of ground beef or chicken. Make it your goal to learn new cooking techniques. You’ll experience some flops along the way, but over time you’ll build up a great collection of recipes that will enable you to take advantage of great deals with confidence.
Use your price book as a guide to research what are truly the best grocery bargains and purchase those things when the time is right. Eventually, you’ll have a large enough stockpile so that you will be able to create your family’s favorite meals with what you have on hand at home already.
Most of us have lots of people on our gift list throughout the year, but it’s something that we often fail to plan ahead and budget for. Keeping a master list of every gift you need to buy throughout the year: not just holidays and birthdays, but teacher appreciation gifts, and other holidays like Valentine’s Day, Easter, and so on can help you save money as well as stay organized. Write down everyone you need to buy for and when you find a great deal, snap it up and check that person and occasion off your list – no matter what time of year it is. Keep your “gift stash” in one place so that when you need to find the gift you know where it is. You may also want to keep a few generic gifts for baby showers, housewarming parties, and other unexpected occasions.
Kids’ Clothing List
A key to saving money on kids’ clothing is to shop the end of season sales for the following year. The problem with this is that moms often just shop randomly instead of really determining what they’ll need. Consequently, they often overbuy certain things and underbuy others. It’s a good idea to keep a short checklist of what your kids go through in a given season. Your inventory might look like this: Three pairs of jeans, two pairs of dress pants, two sweatshirts, five t-shirts, underwear, socks, tennis shoes, dress shoes, coat, etc. Then, when you see those end-of-season sales, you’ll be able to buy what you truly need and skip the things you don’t.
Ongoing Wish List
This is one that I keep for items I’d like but really don’t need. My list usually looks something like this: pair of brown leather boots, wall décor for living room, sheets for queen bed, etc. I keep my eyes peeled for sales, but realize that I won’t buy these things unless I find the right item at the right price. I know I need to replace the sheets on our bed soon, but I can wait for a 50-75% off sale. I also have my list handy if anyone asks me what’s on my wish list for birthdays and Christmas.
**I need to actually pick up stuff for my gift list. I have ideas written down to when people mention things. I need to pick up things for easter, moms bday, fathers day, rylans bday, zacks bday, and so on! I also want a headstart on christmas this year!!!
Tomarrow, on my to-do list I have put to make inventory of Rylans babyfood, and formula and such. Instead of posting it in the pantry(im sure my mom would be like WTF is that about?) I will keep it posted in my planner. Also I'm thinking of making a meal plan for him since he still needs to try new foods to check for allergies.
Clothing Inventory...for all 3 of us! Rylan is growing out of his 6-9 month clothes and hes only 8 months. LOL, but yet when he was born, we had a few newborn outfits and lots of 0-3 months...ended up we had to go buy preemie clothes...AND preemie diapers, for an unexpected early arrival.
Ongoing Wish List. We also need a new sheet set...and actually a whole new bedset!
I also will be updating my price book. I've kept all the recipts. I'm planning on moving it to a bigger notebook because its driving me nuts!
Guess I'll be adding making an 2nd approved spending list...which will suck. This will include the 500$ my boyfriend needs for fiberglass***
slice of coffee cake
on the go twix pack
Parents Choice Formula
5pk Mac and Cheese
(2)Gerber Infant Juices
(4)bottles beechnut juice
(5)jars of beechnut 1st foods
(20)jars of beechnut 2nd foods
(2)Taco Bell taco seasoning
little box of Altoids mints
40 pk Parents Choice Diapers
12 pk diet soda
LOL...okay, I cheated. I had a 50$ gift card
Saved in coupons:11.25
left in grocery budget: -25.31
Wednesday, January 21, 2009
Copied From Mommysavers:
When it comes to saving on groceries, it helps to be a proactive grocery shopper. That means knowing what the best prices are and building a stockpile of things you need when prices are rock bottom, rather than when you run out of something and have to buy it at full price.
Create a Master Meals List
Take your price book one step further by creating a list of the ten frugal meals your family eats most often. Write down all the ingredients necessary to make those dishes from start to finish. Don’t forget anything – if you make garlic bread to go with spaghetti dinners also include the bread, butter, garlic, etc. Come up with a master list of all ingredients. These are the items you should focus on when creating your price book.
Your master meals list will also give you insight as to how much meals actually cost when you’re making them at home. This list will allow you to analyze the cost of what you’re making to see if you’re making smart choices. Sometimes certain meals (especially casseroles and one-pot meals with many ingredients) are more expensive than you think. A simple meal of broiled fish and a steamed vegetable often costs less than a casserole made with canned soup, cheese, and pasta and other ingredients. Also, pay close attention to the meals you make that require you to buy more of an ingredient than you need. For example, when you make a roast or a stew do you often have leftover celery, carrots, or other veggies? Do they often go to waste or do you incorporate the extras in your menu plan?
Once you’ve completed your master meals list, you’ll want to keep close tabs on the prices of those items for the next several months so you can spot pricing trends. Grocery sale prices hit rock bottom every 12 weeks on non-perishables, and that’s the time you’ll want to stock up. Certain things like fresh produce often hit rock bottom once a year when they’re in season and can be more difficult to stockpile, but it still helps to monitor their prices as well. In some cases you’ll still be able to stockpile them if you can freeze, can or preserve them in some other way.
Create a Master Pantry List
Now that you have a master list of ten standby meals and the ingredients required to make them, you have a great start to your master pantry list. Now, add all the things you need for day-to-day cooking – basics such as milk, flour, eggs, sugar, onions, garlic, etc. Once you’ve added them, you have a master pantry list.
Organize your master pantry list by grocery store department (produce, canned goods, dairy, etc). Then, print out the list and keep it posted in your pantry. Write down the number of boxes/cans you have on hand and take special note when your supply is diminishing. When you take something out of your pantry, adjust your list accordingly. This will also help you see what you have on hand at a glance instead of rummaging through the shelves, making it easier to keep your pantry organized.
Your goal as a proactive shopper will be to familiarize yourself with the prices of the things on your pantry list so that you can buy them when they’re on sale, rather than when you run out.
SPENDING FREEZE IS OVER!!
Lovely! I've had this done for awhile. So I will make my assignment to UPDATE! I have a gazillion recipts I need to put in there. Also, I'm going to put it on a spreadsheet and possibly upload it to my phone.
Info from mommysavers:
Start with the 25-50 products your family uses most often. To get a good idea of which items to include, look at what’s currently in your pantry and start from there. Or, save your grocery cash register receipts for a period of time. Most of them will include information such as the brand/product purchased, the date, and some will even include the size of the product.
My spreadsheet includes these rows: item, store, date purchased. Many people also include the size of the item so that they can compute the price per ounce. You may find that most of the things you buy come in pretty standard sizes (for example a can of cream of mushroom soup, a block of cream cheese, etc.) and that this isn’t always necessary.
You may also want to include the brand name of products you buy in your price book, especially if you prefer one brand over another. That way, you can evaluate whether buying a name brand is worth paying the extra money, or in some cases you may notice that the brand name doesn’t cost any more than the generic counterpart.
Friday, January 16, 2009
Create Your Budget
By now, your budget has practically created itself. To complete your budget, allocate the appropriate amount of money to each category based on the steps above, making sure the right column (expenses) doesn’t exceed the left column (income).
Recreation and Entertainment
Medical and Dental
Once you devise your budget, you may find that you’re coming up short of income to cover your expenses. Assign priorities to each thing you’d like to accomplish so that you can make a clear decision about what is most important to you.
Come up with a System to Maintain
The best budgeting system is one that is easy for your family to follow, whether it’s the old-fashioned envelope system or something computer generated. Don’t try to force your family into a system they don’t understand or isn’t easy to use. The biggest key to your success is finding a system that works for you.
Software programs like Quicken or MS Money help make budgeting easy for many families. These programs offer great features that allow you to graph and chart progress; they can even connect with your online banking platforms and help improve your credit score. Chances are there is one pre-loaded on your computer.
If you’re not computer savvy, the envelope system still works for many families today. How it works: Grab an envelope for each category within in your budget. Inside, place the amount of cash that your budget allows each month. Once the cash is gone, you’re done spending.
**Also, I was looking around for a free spreadsheet program and found one at google!**
Avoid Budgeting Mistakes
Now that you’ve got a clear picture what you spend, what you earn, and where you can cut back you can create your budget. When creating a budget, a lot of families make critical mistakes. Don’t set yourself up for failure! Here are some tips to ensure your success:
FirstDespite record amounts of disposable income Americans had a negative savings rate in 2005-2006 for the first time since the great depression. Making saving automatic can help you beat the statistics and set aside more of your income for the future. If your employer offers an automatic deposit plan, allocate some of your earnings to go directly into a savings account. If you don’t see it, chances are you won’t miss it. If you don’t pay yourself first, you’re increasing the likelihood that you’ll use that money on other categories.
Build in Wiggle Room
If you’re inflexible when devising your budget, you’re setting yourself up for failure. Allow for a financial cushion in each category so when fluctuations occur you’ll be covered.Budget for Emergencies/Irregular ExpensesEmergencies happen. Cars break down. Kids get sick. People lose jobs. Those are simple facts of life. It’s not a matter of IF they happen -- it’s more of a WHEN. Don’t act like a victim when life happens to you, but instead be prepared. Add a rainy day fund to you budget. If you don’t have one at all, it may help to start out with a goal of having $1,000 set aside. Then, as you build your fund and pay off debt, increase that goal to having three months’ of living expenses set aside. When you’re completely debt free and building up retirement savings as well, increase that goal to six months.
Budget for Irregular Expenses
Even though things like vacations, insurance payments and buying holiday gifts don’t happen every month, include them in your budget as well. Estimate your total yearly expenditure and divide by 12 to come up with your monthly budget.
Build in “Fun Money”
Some of the most successful budgets have a category for “fun money” – money that doesn’t have to be accounted for. It could be cash for sodas/snacks, lunches out, or whatever you want. This category can help prevent you from feeling “trapped” in your budget and having to account for every little expense. How much is in this category is really up to you and should fit your financial situation.
Now that you’ve tracked your family’s spending, you can analyze your findings. If you don’t like what you see, you now have an opportunity to change things.
First, look at your fixed expenses -- the expenses that stay the same each month. Some will be hard to cut back on (mortgage, auto loans, etc.), but other fixed expenses such as cable, gym fees, lawn services, etc. may be easier to trim. Which monthly memberships can be eliminated? Is your cable/phone/internet package the right one for you? Could you get by with a less expensive version? Can you drop your landline altogether? Can you do-it-yourself?
Your variable expenses are often the easiest to cut back on. These are the categories that fluctuate each month such as groceries, clothing, gas, eating out, etc. Visit our Money Saving Tips forums for creative solutions to saving money in each of these categories.
Often times families lose sight of the big picture because they’re distracted by more urgent, compelling ways to spend their money. Is your spending in line with your financial goals and your family’s values? Don’t let things like lunches out or a salon pedicure habit get in the way of funding your child’s college education. Realize that when you cut back in certain areas, you will be able to apply your savings towards more important things such as paying off debt, building savings, or achieving your dreams.
Assignment: Identify 3-5 key spending areas that you’d like to trim and come up with creative solutions to cut back.
Wednesday, January 14, 2009
Collect all your current credit card statements and other bills in which you carry a balance. Create a spreadsheet (Excel works well) so that you can track your progress as you pay down your debt.
Here is a sample of how to set up your spreadsheet:
Column A: Name of the Creditor/Account
Column B: Interest Rate
Column C: Balance Remaining
Column D: Minimum Monthly Payment
Column E: Budgeted Monthly PaymentAdd the totals in columns C, D.
You’ll then have a clear picture of your total amount of debt and the minimum amount required to stay current with your payments. In the next step, we’ll look at how much to allocate to each bill (column E) to come up with your debt repayment plan. However, it will be your goal to put as much extra money as possible towards your monthly debt payments.
Tomarrows assignment is deciding a debt pay off plan! YAY!!!
Left before this trip: 90.50$
(2)Red Baron Frozen Pizza
Sourdough cocktail bread
bananna nut bread
1/2 lb roast beef
(2) packs shredded cheese
healthy choice mixer
taco bell mild sauce
12 pk water
(2)GV refried beans
(2)GV black beans
12 pk ramen noodles
parents choice diapers
cashe valley string cheese
(4)jars beechnut baby food
(3)jars gerber baby food
gillette mens body wash
(2)ocean spray cran grape
coupon savings: 5.50
(2) 32oz Gatorade
Johnsons Baby Washclothes(CLOSEOUT, with coupon I got this for .78cents)
(3) Lean Cusine Frozen Meals
quaker quakes-apple cinnimon(FREE)
(6)2 pk gerber stage 2
coupon savings(including store card savings): 11.36
(3)box chex mix bars
coupon savings(including deals): 6.82
Total for today: 93.66
Total coupon savings for today:23.68
* I KNOW I'm going to go over this month, I still might need an extra can of formula towards the end of the month, and pick up a few items for lunches...blahhh. Next month my budget will be 270$* I have predicted myself to go over by 25 dollars this month. We've also added to our budget an extra 20$ or so for stockpiling when things have a great sale.
Tuesday, January 13, 2009
More Info from mommysavers:
Now that you have your magic number, what do you do with it? Here’s a general breakdown of how your FICO score is interpreted:
Excellent: Over 750
Very Good: 720 or more
Acceptable: 660 to 720
Uncertain: 620 to 660
Risky: less than 620
Poor: Less than 590
Very Poor: Less than 550
Most Americans have FICO scores in the 600s and 700s. The boundary between a standard loan and a higher cost loan, also known as a subprime loan, is generally considered to be a credit score of 620. Any score less than 500 will generally mean you’re declined for any type of credit. In today's economy, that number may actually be a bit higher in some cases.
If your FICO score is 720 and above, you may be able to re-negotiate your credit card rates. Don’t waste any more money on interest than you have to. Grab your credit card statements and call lenders to re-negotiate lower rates.
The FCRA (Fair Credit Reporting Act) protects your right to have inaccuracies in your credit report removed. http://www.ftc.gov/os/statutes/031224fcra.pdf
If you do find something suspicious or inaccurate on your report, notify both the credit bureau who provided the report and also the company where it came from. Include relevant information to support your claims such as cancelled checks and send them via certified mail or another shipping method that requires a signature and delivery confirmation.
Get Your FICO Score Up
Since your FICO score is heavily weighted towards recent activity (the prior 6 months) you can get it up in a relatively short period of time. Focus on the steps outlined here:
• Open a savings account if you don’t have one
• Settle any debts in collection
• Correct inaccuracies
• Keep credit card balances low instead of maxing out your accounts (balances kept over 75% of the limit are considered high)
• Pay more than the minimum balance each month
• Keep accounts open instead of closing them once debt has been paid off
• Avoid checking your FICO score too frequently. Anything more than once or twice a year could raise red flags and impact your score.
Don’t fall victim to scams that promise they will lower your credit score for a fee. Anything that they can do, you can also do on your own – and at no cost to you. Raising your credit simply takes time and effort.
I hope this info helps others as well!
Heres the post from Mommysavers. I learned alot of stuff I didnt know about!
Here is a breakdown:
1. Payment history: 35%
2. Amounts owed: 30%
3. Length of credit history: 15%
4. New credit: 10%
5. Types of credit use: 10%
It’s a good idea to check it routinely (once a year) to ensure that it’s accurate, even if you don’t anticipate applying for a loan in the near future. If you’re in debt, it can be a tool to gauge progress and also negotiate lower rates. Prospective employers and landlords may check it to see how responsible you are in making your payments.
There are three main credit reporting bureaus:
You’re entitled to one free report from each agency during the year. The three credit reporting bureaus have a website and toll-free telephone number through which you can order your free annual report.
Via Phone: 877-322-8228Via the Mail: http://www.ftc.gov/bcp/conline/inclu...tformfinal.pdf
*Avoid signing up for ongoing credit monitoring when you check your credit score online.
Did you know? Potential employers, landlords and even utility/internet/cable providers may check your FICO score to see if you are a credit risk and to see how responsible you've been in making payments.
Saturday, January 10, 2009
Your Priority Assignment this weekend is to catch up with what I've already thrown your way.
There's a reason this is called a Boot Camp. We're definitely trying to make some big strides in a short period of time. However, I want to also ensure your success so I'll give you the weekend to catch up and regroup. Come Monday, we're going to be hitting some of the financial projects pretty hard once again... so be prepared!
So far, you should:
*Be on the second week of a 3-week spending freeze(CHECK!)
*Have a Net Worth Statement(CHECK!)
*Have started a Gratitude or "5 Things" Journal to track the positive things in your life on a daily basis(CHECK!)
*Have a Family Mission Statement(CHECK!)
*Have a list of 100 dreams and a working list of 25 goals for the year, broken down into manageable steps(CHECK!)
*Know what your current cost of living is based on the past six months expenses(Kinda CHECK! I got my spending report from my bank for the last 16 months. I need to sort through it and such)
As a fun BONUS ASSIGNMENT for those who are caught up or feeling especially ambitious, we're going to be creating Dream Boards or Vision Boards. If you're inside with kids today, have them create one too. You may get a kick out of what they add! I did this with my daughter last year, and most of her things came straight out of the toy catalogs we had around the house.
You can even create a FAMILY VISION BOARD based on your mission statement.
Bonus Assigmnment: Create a Vision Board
You can do this with a bulletin board or with a big piece of tagboard or cardboard. Your assignment is to take magazines, photographs, computer printouts, quotes, words, and other images that represent visions of what you would like to accomplish in your life and attach them to your board. If you want to go to Italy, cut out an image of Tuscany (or Milan, Venice, etc). If you want to develop better relationships with your siblings, include pictures of you together in happy times. If you'd like to read more, include pictures of the books you'd like to read, and so on.
If you don't have enought to work with at home already, you can frequently find old magazines in the magazine exchange area of your library for this. You can also create printouts of photographs, inspirational quotes and affirmation statements right on your computers.
Keep your board in a place that you see every day. I keep mine right by my computer. Some people keep images on their computer desktop and see them every time they boot up their computer in the morning. When you look at the images, allow yourself to really FEEL yourself accomplishing them. Let your emotion fuel the fire and truly MOTIVATE you.
*Good thing tomarrow to-do list just includes laundry! I have also added to catch up on FTJ projects!*
Left Of Budget: 105.42
Vitamin D Milk
(2) Gerber 2nd foods
Beechnut 2nd foods 2 pack
Propel 12 pk
Sams Club 24pk diet soda
Coupon Savings: 1$
Left Of Budget: 90.50$
Note! I had also bought a carseat, but it ended up it wasn't a rear facing one(my son is almost 8 months old) and I had looked online at walmart.com because I was going to return it and I still needed another one. Anyways, the SAME carseat was 139.99$ ONLINE but I had bought it at the store for 180$! RIPOFF!! At the bottom of walmart.com it had said that prices may be different from store to website, but 40$ is ridiculous! I'm glad it was the wrong one anyways. BLAH!!
Thursday, January 8, 2009
Left Of budget:122.01$
(5) Gerber 2nd foods- 1$each
(3)Gerber infant juice -1.94$ each
Hair gel 5.22$
saved in coupons- .75cents
left of budget $105.42
This is a great topic/challange for my blog! Alot of my dreams are things I have available at home to do! Such as:
- Learning To Sew (I got a sewing machine for Christmas, and I've been picking up fabric as I go along since I knew I was getting it since July!)
- Finish My Sons 1st Year Scrapbook
- Finish my DS blankie(I'm crocheting it, and I have 2 things of yarn already...of course, purchased with a 50% off coupon from my local craft store)
- Have a reasonable grocery budget(I can work on finding coupons and making a menu plan)
I won't bore you with my entire list, but those are some of my ideas. Check out my mommysavers blog HERE!!
Wednesday, January 7, 2009
- Assign Timelines
Plan of Action
- Be Specific
- Identify Action Steps
This is lovely. :) I have 50 goals and I'm sure I'll add more as the year goes along. If interested in my goals, I will be making a blog on mommysavers for this as I don't find it to go along with my frugal blog.
What Do You Really Want?
Your dreams can provide some valuable personal insight. With each dream you’ve written down, ask yourself these questions:
• Why do you want it?
• What will it provide for you?
• Is this something that society says is important, or one that you personally value?
• Is it consistent with your values, as stated in your Family Mission Statement?
• Would you want this if nobody saw or heard about it?
• Do any of your goals contradict each other?
*oopsy...I'm a little behind, but I will be all caught up by the end of today.*
Monday, January 5, 2009
Sunday, January 4, 2009
EDIT! I finished it!
Family Mission Statement
Our family will be close and stick together through rough times
We will help others as much as we can, and do what we can for others
Our home will be a place of truth and honesty, and we will help each other grow stronger
Our home will not be a place of fear, but a place of happiness and fun
We will always show love and respect
Saturday, January 3, 2009
This is great! It's about writing positive things in your life! I try to do this everyday in my head, but with a journal I'll be able to look back at it. Even if your not doing FTJ Bootcamp, this is a great thing to do anyways.
I'm interested, because first off I'm 20! I dont own anything really. But my boyfriends car is under his name and we each have credit cards(Zack to multiple places). We'll see how it goes. It's gotta be done on Monday, so I'm going to work on it tonight.
EDIT! Finally got mine done. I was right, ours came out wacky! After reviewing this, SO said 'LETS PAY OFF DEBT!!!!' haha I said 'Of course, isn't that the goal of the ftj project'
Okay, so after looking at other blogs, I decided to post my net worth statement. For some reason, I've been scared!
2004 Nisan Sentra 1.8S $8200
2001 Chevy Silerado $8625
Yamaha 2003 TTR 225 $1510
Yamaha 2007 YZ 85 $2110
TOTAL ASSETS: $20,445
2004 Nisan Sentra $11,727.97
Jessica's Credit card $628.23
Zacks Credit Card $665.55
Yamaha Credit Card $6,025.16
Home Depot Credit Card $1,030
TOTAL LIABILITIES: $20,076.91
TOTAL NET WORTH: $369.91
I'm going to LOVE watching this go down every month!
Thursday, January 1, 2009
Spent at Smiths 117.99$ Saved 38.96$
Ocean Spray Cran Grape
(2) Kroger Beef Broth
(5) 32oz G2 gatorades
Just Bunches Cereal
(2) Kroger Refried Beans
(2)Kroger Red Beans
(2)Kroger Kindney Beans
(2)Kroger Shredded Cheese
Chex Mix Bars
(2) cheese sticks
Brownie Cookie Dough
4 2-liter sodas
Eggo Frozen Waffles
(6)Lean Cusine Frozen Meals
(2)Beechnut Infant Juice
(2)boxes 100calorie packs
(2) Sara Lee Bread
Hungry Jack Pancake Mix
Kroger Pan Spray
NP Vanilla Soy Milk
Left of Budget: 122.01
This was on my approved budget. Things I avoided today: I didnt get the slim fast because I dont need it, I just like how it tastes, and I didnt get any baby food! We have so much in our cabnet, I want to finish it up and not buy more since we're in the spending freeze. I also avoided getting extra diapers. I bought some before the freeze, I might have to get more towards the end though. So I avoided: 22$ :)
Last Night, I went though our pantry, and pulled out what we could have for meals. I found 2 boxes of spegetti and 2 jars of spegetti sauce, 2 boxes unopened cherrios, pulled out all of my sons baby food and juices, an extra box of mac and cheese, instant oatmeal, ramen noodles, instant lunch, granola bars, juice, and there was so much more in there! That alone would feed us for about a week, so that will help during the spending freeze, this will help us last longer thoughout the month. So, Go check your pantry to see what you have just sitting around in there.
A little info: From 1/1/09-1/21/09 We are in a spending freeze. This will help to avoid impulse buys and to use what you have already!
Day One Activity:
Approved Spending List:
- Groceries(My January Budget is 240$)
- A wedding present
- My boyfriend will get 30$/week for whatever he wants
- 25 pictures to get printed for January Crop ( scrapbooking at mommysavers.com)
- Car seat for my son who has just about out-grown his carrier
- SwapTree package U.S. Mail
- 2 Baby gifts with 3 Mailings
I guess we can add to this to go along. Honestly, I'm scared for these 3 weeks, but I know I'll keep using the things I've learned from the program even if I dont meet our goal.
Left for budget 60.55$
- GV Ravioli
- (2) Gerber Toddler foods
- Franks Redhot Hot Sauce
- GV Saltines
- Biore Face Scrub
- (2)cookie dough
- Mission Tortilla
- (2)Shaving Cream
- Dannon Yogurt(FREE COUPON)
- Storybook Lifesavers (1/2 off)
- Ocean Spray Juice
- Hand Sanitizer
- Suave Shampoo
- Suave Conditioner
- (2)Oust (BOGO FREE)
- Gillette Body Wash
- Hair Gel
- (2) Kraft Cheese
- Bath Pouf
- 12 pk Pepsi
My Total for the month was: 293.92$
My Total for December Savings: 82.99$