Happy New Year's Everyone.
After reading all the success in the $20 Savings Challenge -- I'm going to give it a shot this year. If we're half as successful as many of you -- I'll be estatic!
Archive for December, 2006
Happy New Year's Everyone.
December has been an interesting month. DH has really been trying to help by working extra whenever he could. It really paid off. In the past two months we've:
(1) Paid for my winter and spring sessions of school without using any more student loans
(2) Reduced our grocery bill down to $275.20 last month. Still have a little ways to go. I think we can get it down to $200.
(3) Made progress on our debt (We have a mortgage and my student loans -- no credit cards or car loans):
Mortgage down from 96,111 (Nov 1st) to 95,083
Student loans down from 36,850 (Nov 1st) to 35,961.
(4) Started rebuilding our emergency fund up to $450.
(5) Limited "errands" and nonessential gas/automobile trips to once every two weeks or hiking on weekends (a necessary sanity).
For January, I am going to try to:
(1) add $100 to our emergency fund.
(2) Reduce our grocery bill some more
(3) Budget some money for "fun" expenses. The last two months we haven't spent anything. It helped a little to bring down what we owe, but we each need some money for "spending."
(4) Say no to anything people want us to "do." There's always a charity "event" at school or people wanting to "get together." I don't enjoy these and it's really just not worth my time or money.
(5) Try to find some additional ways to cut expenses. This is really getting hard to do. I feel like we are almost down to the barest essentials. I can't turn down the thermostat any lower. I'm going to try to see if there's any more ways we can "insulate" the house. There's really no way to cut: auto expenses, pet expenses.
What a great feeling. I spent the last two days going through the kitchen. I have to say most of the problem was just pulling everything out, putting into gladware containers (dried fruit, cereal, etc). Easy to see where everything is now and it fits in 1/2 the space. Thankfully our county has recycling for the plastic and cardboard containers. I've also cut and packaged what feels like a million meals that I can pull out of our freezer (or DH) and make when I get home from school. Looks like our grocery budget will be decreasing even more in the coming months.
We've also been working on house projects -- painting the front door, fixing cracks in the plater, putting up pictures and paintings.
Now onto the last project for the weekend -- finishing DH's music room.
Now that school is "done" for winter break. (Not really, as I have a paper and stuff to write over break, but 2h is better than 12 a day!) I am getting ready to work on going through the house. I am hoping to get rid of anything not used in a year, but more importantly to try to find storage space as I have all of three-half size closets in the entire house -- one in each bedroom and precious little in the way of wall space. Ideas are greatfully appreciated. Especially for extra kitchen "pantry" storage.
However, interdispered with this, I'll be able to get some major projects done I've been hoping to do for a while.
(a) Painting the front door
(b) Reorganizing the kitchen
(c) Lining some drapes for our windows (hopefully will help a bit with the winter)
(d) Fill up the freezer with easy meals, so when I start back to school it will be easier to make things and not feel like "takeout"
(e) Get in the habit of exercising in the morning. I've done this for two days so far...
I've cut down on automobile expenses -- mainly gas, as I don't have any car loans. This last tank of gas has lasted three weeks, and I still have almost a half of a tank left. I think I can probably make it last a month with no problem. I realized a lot of "running" was just for repair stuff. Like when the dryer stopped running, DH will go to the store for a $5 part to fix it, then we'll head out on our regular "errand night." Now, I just keep a list of errands that need to be run, keep it by the refrigerator and every time we "need something," we just run through the whole list.
I've been contributing the maximum to may 401k/403b since I started working (matched by our employers). This has really added up. I'm going to try to start adding to our Roth IRAs.
We've cut down on our electricity/as by 25% from the first year we moved in. The biggest savings in the gas has been by insulating (a very old leaky house) and installing a timer for the furnace. We've also always used fluorescent bulbs - brighter and not needing to be replaced as often. I swear every incandescent bulb in this house stoppped working within a few months of having moved in. We replaced with fluorescent and haven't touched them since (4 years ago). At this point, I can't think of any ways save any more on utilities without spending a lot of money.
When I started our garden, we mainly got cuttings from people and I picked up a few plants that I liked. Out of the ones that survived, I've divided them over the years and now have a garden full of color I love.
I managed to exceed 2/3 of my goals for November, but not the third one.
Our total for groceries/eating out/quick stops went down to $303.42, a savings of $149.88 this month! I made some of the cheaper, easier recipies posted on the boards a couple of times a week and cut down on eating out. I can still cut down more on eating out and get this total down lower in December.
For the second goal of paying off $150 towards the student loans -- I managed to pay off a little over $700, bringing our totals down to:
Student Loans: 36,144.13
For our third goal, saving $150 -- I used the extra money towards the school loans, as I just couldn't see paying the extra interest, but I really do need to get an emergency fund set up again.
So for December, my new goals are:
(1): To decrease our grocery budget to atleast $275
(2): To pay cash for my winter semester of school (trying to avoid additional student loans)
(3): To save $50 in an "emergency" fund.
(4): To pay off an additional $300 in student loans.