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The Good Money Habits

December 12th, 2006 at 08:59 pm

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.

November's Tally and December's Goals

December 9th, 2006 at 10:55 pm

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
Mortgage 95602.39

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.

My Grocery/Eating Out Goal for November

November 6th, 2006 at 10:29 pm

One of my major goals for November is to cut down on our grocery bill. I am defining this as all food from the grocery store, any eating out, and stops at quick markets. Last month our total was $453.50! I think this will be the easiest "quick money" to put towards the student loans and building back up our emergency fund. So, I am going to start keeping track of how much we spend on food, and food-related expenses. So far this month we are up to $32.75.

I cooked a turkey yesterday (that we got at .49/lb). It was nice to come home from school today and not have to worry about dinner. It's been a pretty long day, and I am usually pretty tired by now with several hours of studying and housework to do before bed. Most of the time when I feel like this it's been easier to have DH pick something up rather then cooking. (Spaghetti, tacos, and salads get a little old after a while of trying to fix something "quick" when I'm tired). I have even managed to get in a bit of walking for a change -- helps with the energy. Smile

The Sad Truth and a Lot of Hope

November 5th, 2006 at 10:30 pm

Thanks everyone for the welcome, it's encouraging! Smile Someone mentioned getting used to living on one income -- that is actually where I am hoping to head in order to be able to live some of our dreams (more later in this entry).

I sat down this morning and added up how much we owe:
Student Loans 36,850
Mortgage 96,111

The sad part is our mortgage is currently 40% of our take home pay (from 20% earlier). I thought about refinancing, but it's really not worth it, since we are able to handle the mortgage (it's a 15 year mortgage) and cover all of our living expenses.

The good news is no credit card debt and no auto loans. I've also found a few ways to decrease our spending, so for the next month, I am going to focus on:
Not eating out, especially because I really like to cook.
Saving $150 in our emergency fund.
Paying off $150 of student loans.

As I mentioned earlier, I am hoping to use the extra money from my future job to fund my big goals in life:
To travel
To have our current house paid off within 5 years
To move to a more rural area (always a dream of mine to live somewhere I was surrounded by trees and could have a large garden)
To help fund and participate (timewise) in an organization that will help individuals achieve thier life dreams

Assessing Where I am

November 5th, 2006 at 02:06 am

I went back to school much earlier this year, after leaving my job. Living on one income has been a little scarey. I have been so used to having lots of extra money and no debts (other than the mortgage). So, to have lost half of our income and acquiring new debt is a new experience.

I thought I would be okay with the debt, as I know we'll be able to pay it off quickly after I finish school and start working again (2 more years). I have decided to rethink our plan, by decreasing the amount of new debt we take on, and starting to pay off my school loans much earlier if possible.

I'm going to try to get an idea of where we really are financially right now, and work month by month to hopefully have no more debt (except the mortgage) by the time I get out of school.

-J


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