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Archive for December, 2011

2012 Passive Income and Snowflaking Challenge

December 30th, 2011 at 05:40 pm

What I consider my "passive income" is money that I make from things like Pinecone surveys, rebates, items sold on ebay or craigslist, class-action lawsuit rebates and things along those lines, not from my regular job (i.e., my SSI, babysitting, cleaning houses, money my husband gives me or my summer job).

I was reading "The Family CEO" blog entry on how they track their debt snowflakes with a spreadsheet.

http://www.thefamilyceoblog.com/2011/11/reader-question-how-to-track-debt-snowflakes-with-a-spreadsheet/

I loved the idea and thought that would be a good way for me to help with paying off my debt in 2012. Plus, I think it will motivate me to list and sell some items on ebay and craiglist and look for other creative ways to make extra income to go towards debt repayment.

My budget is somewhat based on this entry here:

http://campfrugal.savingadvice.com/2011/12/22/what-needs-to-happen-the-plan_88642/

and here:

http://campfrugal.savingadvice.com/2011/11/29/new-plan-2012_86567/

Once I completely finalize my Spending, Saving and Debt Repayment Plan for 2012, I will blog about it in the New Year, along with my totals from 2011.

I am pretty excited about getting the New Year started.

Passive Income and Thoughts

December 30th, 2011 at 03:57 pm

Adding my last $3.00 for the year from a Pinecone survey to my passive income total.

Previous Amount: $303.73
Add monies: $3.00
New Total: $306.73

Also, looked into the Magic Jack. I know that it only costs $20/year, but I am confused as to how I change that over from my existing phone provider, which also provides my Internet and cable tv. I called to see what it would cost to drop the landline and get a cost on just internet and tv, but the representative pretty much assured me that I was getting a better savings with all three (landline, cable and tv) than with only two (cable and tv). So, I am a little confused here.
I would eventually like to just get rid of the landline and cable tv, by linking the tv through something like a roku or wii, and only pay for internet. Trying to figure all of this technology out is so frustrating and confusing. I am finding that this would be a great new job for someone to come into other people's homes to set this kind of stuff up. hmmm.

As most know, Murphy stole Santa's sleigh and made a stop at my home for Christmas. Even though I saved money on Christmas this year, I had to spend it on a new well pump - bummer. Plus, had to have someone back out yesterday to fix my "new" furnace again. Apparently the dust from the kitty litter is being sucked into where the burners are, so my furnace shuts itself down if it is not getting a full signal. I wasn't charged, thank goodness, because they were just out here the end of October giving it a cleaning.

Anyhow, had to change my kitty litter to a pellet, which the cats are not happy about. They have been very vocal about the changes in their potty, but eventually they both used it. I didn't completely change it over. I kept some of their normal kitty litter and mixed it with the pellets to do a gradual change over, but nonetheless, the cats still bitched about it.

I am thinking that I am eventually going to completely change the kitty litter over to shredded paper. I keep recycling my paper in the abitibi at our local school, but, if I shred it, I can use it in the kitty potty box and save myself a bundle. I am going to add up how much I spent on kitty litter over the past year to see how much I can save.

Got my vehicle and homeowner's insurance recently in the mail. It came down $140.70 for the next 6 months. Yes, finally, a savings. I will take it. I know, it is only 23.45/month, but every little bit helps.

Calculated my new Debt for 2012.

December 27th, 2011 at 01:32 pm

DEBT: (Credit Cards)

*Freedom Visa: $2,598.45
*Chase Wamu: $3,195.25
*Discover: $4,487.59
*Amazon Visa: $785.62
*Care Credit: $1,882.00
*Art Van: $760.00

**TOTAL CC DEBT: $13,708.91 Didn't get much debt paid off. The difference is I did pay off a doctor bill and an old visa that I don't use anymore, but added to the Care Credit (for the dentist) and Amazon Visa (for my well pump). I did make big progress in the Art Van area, and expect to pay off the Art Van and Care Credit with my income tax return check. That will help me in focusing my debt to the remaining four, Discover, Wamu, Freedom and Amazon.

I do, however, need to get some money back into my EF as soon as possible.

What Needs to Happen - the Plan

December 22nd, 2011 at 01:55 pm

Trying to keep myself positive and work my way back up the financial ladder. I need to rework my budget for just my income.

My income avenues are:

*Monthly SS check for the next year when my youngest turns 18 on December 26, 2012.

*Babysitting the neighbor's babies. This is sporadic, but it is usually an extra $100 - $140/month until June 2012. (she is a teacher).

*A house that I clean once a month - $65.00 (might try to add a house or two).

*Summer beach job - seasonal (Memorial Day to Labor Day). I only work this in the summer, but usually make around $3,000 or so.

*Looking to add another part-time job, which I already have been searching for. Something will come my way.

Right now I have 16.xx in my checking and 15.xx in my savings. My husband, for now, gave me $65.00, I have a check for $18.04, and I just transferred the rest of what was left in my Pay Pal ($24.03) to my checking.

All my bills (expenses and debts are paid) for the year, Christmas shopping is done and I have almost enough food to finish out the year, I believe. I do however need just a few items to finish out my menus, which I will pick up today.

January - I am hosting Bunco. I already have the plates, napkins and most of the items to put together the desserts. I have chosen a luau theme and the desserts will be pineapple upside down cake, pecan pie, punch (hawaiian punch with 7up and frozen pineapple chunks) and coffee. I have $40 left in the budget for the gifts. But January is a great time for gifts. So many sales.

February - Baby shower for my new grand-daughter on the way. I have a couple items, but keeping it simple. Menu will be chicken salad with croissants, spinach salad (baby spinach leaves, blueberries, strawberries, walnuts, melon and poppyseed dressing), gourmet potato chips, banana bread, cake, lemonade, water and coffee. Other items I need, I will use coupons or find at the resale shop.

Property taxes due on February 14, 2012 - $246.03.

March - New baby arrives. Due date, St. Patty's Day. Pretty excited.

April: - Easter dinner and the planning of the 2012 season opening of the beach club.

Besides filing for divorce in the new year, making sure I have a strict budget will help me attain my goals.

*Need to rebuild my emergency fund.

*Need to pay down my debt (using my income tax return and a strict debt re-paying method).

*Need to use the money I make at my summer job to buy myself a vehicle.

*Make a list of free/cheap things to do throughout the year with my children to keep me from failing.

Fun things I have right now to do.

*Movie - one free movie ticket - expires December 31, 2011. I will probably sneak out and catch a movie all by myself and use a coupon for some popcorn.

*Red Robin - Free burger - expires January 2 (I will use this for my youngest birthday dinner on December 26).

*Buddy's pizza - Free 4 square cheese pizza - expires January 10. I will definitely pick this up for one of our dinners.

*Model railroad open house with coupon. Will only cost $8.00 for me and my two children at home to attend.

*Ice skating on lake - need ice skates. Should be able to find some at the salvation army for cheap and then pay the $3.00 to have them re-sharpened.

*$25.00 gift card to Applebees. This will be a special treat.

*$20 gift card to Starbucks. I am going to treat my four children (3 of my own and daughter-in-law), so I can talk to them about the divorce, baby shower planning and my goals for the year).

*Tim Horton gift card with $1.37 left on it. - I will definitely use this up when I go out with my favorite neighbor for coffee to catch up on our lives. She needs to know about my decision for a divorce also. She is 74, but a pivotal part of my life. She came into my life the summer after my mother died, 6 years ago, and I can't tell you what a bond we have made.

*Enough points at mypoints.com for a $25.00 gift card. Just need to pick one.

*I am, however, gonna pay the $106 for the unlimited exercise program through our community schools for zumba, strength training and yoga. It runs from January through March and I can do unlimited classes Monday - Thursday.

*Once March is over, I can start walking outside again on the trails - Free.

*Free - Community yoga on Saturday mornings in my town at the Yoga place.

Well, that is the plan so far. Other than putting up my year-end totals and making a brand new doable budget, I believe I can keep myself busy and be happy.

I'm Getting a Divorce

December 20th, 2011 at 12:59 pm

So, over the past few months or maybe years, my marriage has been failing. My husband doesn't seem to think so, but then he is not the one who is mentally and emotionally abused.

Me and my kids have put up with so much, not to go into details, cause he is who he is. He just isn't right for me where I am at in my life.

I have been trying to get through the Holidays, but they are not leaving good impressions on my kids. I work very hard at keeping the peace and looking happy, so that my kids will have a Merry Christmas.

But, enough is enough. I am getting a divorce. I haven't seen an attorney yet. Not sure how I am gonna pay for it, and I am going to have to get another part-time job to make up the little difference I need financially to make it on my own, again.

I did send out a resume last night for an Administrative position right here in my own town and hoping that I will get a call this week.

Of course, it puts a damper on my debt, cause I will probably have to charge the divorce, but it shouldn't cost as much as most, because everything is pretty much set in stone. I get my stuff, he gets his. My kids are not his, so no problem there.

My husband is going to cry and beg me for him to stay and promise that he will change. I really don't want anyone to change for me. If there is to be change, he needs to do it for himself.

I will keep everyone updated. Plenty of prayers needed my way. I need a job and strength, but I have great faith that this is what I need to do.

The Family Christmas Gift

December 19th, 2011 at 04:18 pm

Yes, it is the week before Christmas when the well pump went out, and there was no water all through the house.

But, much to my surprise, the well man showed up on time and fixed the problem.

I am now out $830 which drained my emergency fund and I had to take a cash advance off a credit card for half of it. Bummer.

I will now have to work even harder to catch up, but it only took half the time to shower, cause I have such great water pressure.

So, the Christmas elf has restored sanity in my home for my teenagers.

Merry Christmas. I hope you enjoy your showers.

My Well

December 19th, 2011 at 12:16 pm

It seems every time I get excited to think I have a new plan in place, something goes wrong. Well, I woke up this morning to no water pressure.

Called the well guy, he is coming out around 9 a.m. this morning. Please let it be something simple and not cost to much.

Finished paying the bills for the year

December 16th, 2011 at 01:23 pm

As I finish paying the bills for the year, it gives me a better idea as to where I am starting out next year.

My debt didn't go down much. I did pay off a doctor bill and an old visa, but added to it with a dentist bill on my Care Credit card. The only difference is, there is no interest on the Care Credit until April of 2012. My goal is to pay off the Care Credit and Art Van with my income tax return late March, early April 2012, which will help make a significant difference, and then help me focus all of my attention on the Discover, Wamu and Visa cards. I am going to revamp how I pay those, cause the Discover card's interest is extremely high. I am going to make some calls to see if I can get the interest rate lowered.

I also made some progress on my mortgage. And, with my next payment, I will be under the $100,000 mark. To me that is pretty exciting. I have 12.5 years left on this note, but am aiming towards having it paid off in 10 years or less. Of course, once I get my other debt paid off, I can totally focus on paying down my mortgage and saving more for retirement.

And, some time next year, I do need to purchase myself a vehicle. Maybe I can possibly swing that with the money I make from my summer beach job. I know I said in an earlier post that that money will be used to pay property taxes and Christmas, but if I put an extra $150 into my savings account each month, I could have that all covered by the time those payments come due, that way the over $3,000 that I make from my summer job can buy me a decent vehicle, possibly.

Well, as you can see, I am still tweaking my goals. I will post my year-end totals the beginning of January, like I always do. I am definitely going over my year-end totals from the past few years to see where I can make a difference.

Stop the Madness

December 14th, 2011 at 04:32 pm

As I have been trying to simplify my life even more, I often wonder how to handle the holidays. Not only do I cook all day on Thanksgiving only to sit down at the table for 20 minutes to eat and then clean for hours, I have two children with birthdays in December along with the Christmas and New Year's madness.

I started my baking today and because the print on the jar is so small, I misread how much of one ingredient I needed to add to the recipe. Needless to say, my fudge did not turn out, at all. Now, I make this fudge every year, with no problems, but today seems to be a little more challenging.

And then it dawned on me, why am I baking at all. No one in this house needs all the goodies on my list of items "to get baked". I really only need to bake something, if the occasion arises.

So, I decided to make one more batch of fudge only, with the correct amount of ingredients and put the rest of my baking ingredients away until someone needs something.

I know that my family appreciates all the goodies, but I have one child who is hypo-glycemic, one with low blood sugar, one that will just eat sugary items and then not be hungry for healthy food and my husband who is a total chocoholic and needs to visit the dentist. Then there is me. I am not actually overweight, but I would like to loose about 10 pounds and right now I seem to be craving a salad.

So, I am stopping all the madness and closing the baking cabinet door.

Got a Cost of Living Adjustment Raise

December 14th, 2011 at 01:38 pm

There hasn't been a Cost of Living Adjustment raise for two years due to the recession. But, this year there will be a 3.6% raise. That gives me an extra $56/month or $672 for the year . I'll take it.

Thank you for the Gift card.

December 13th, 2011 at 02:58 pm

A few times per month I go next door and watch my neighbors children. One 4 year old and three 2 year olds (yes triplets). I am only there from 6:30 a.m. until 8:15 a.m. and they pay me $20 each time.

Today was my last day until sometime in January. They gave me a $25.00 gift card to Applebee's (which I love) to thank me for making their mornings so much easier, along with paying me.

There is really nothing to buy them, so I am going to make them a platter of baked goodies to deliver the week of Christmas in return.

A Very Frugal and Transitional Christmas

December 12th, 2011 at 01:10 pm

Well, I am just about done with my Christmas shopping. I think this is a transition year in how much I normally spend on my kids and how much they are used to receiving. They are getting older, 17, 20 and 26. Two of them have jobs and pay for a lot of items they already want or need, like clothes, vehicle costs, etc. And, my oldest lives on his own with his fiance.

So with that said, I am having some anxiety because it has been hard to figure out what to buy my kids, but I also have been a little cash strapped.

In the past years, I usually go off their list and buy items I definitely know they need or want and it totals a hefty sum. For instance, 2010 - spent $1,872.52, 2009 - spent $1,325.87 and 2008 - spent $1,533.86. Those amounts include all extended family presents, parties, baking items, wrapping paper, bags and such, but still seems quite high.

This year, I have totally recycled more. I have been using up items in my home, instead of going out and buying gifts. For example, I made some hard candy in cinnamon and wintergreen because I had most all the supplies around the house and then packaged them in extra jelly jars that I don't use for my Christmas Party gifts with the Bunco girls.



I have also used items for my kids that I never used and picked up along the way for cheap or free. They are brand new items that have been stored in my closet. For instance, a beautiful photo album in a brown suede box and a picture box for my daughter in law for scrapbooking, and a brand new 6-pack cooler and outdoor travel umbrella for my oldest son. His SUV has a tailgating table in the back and I thought he could use the umbrella and cooler with it.

I did purchase all of my kids one or two really nice gifts like a digital camera and boots for my daughter and hockey equipment (skates, gloves and stick) for my youngest, along with getting my oldest and his fiance a waffle maker and a brita for their sink faucet and some groupons to eat out. They are all getting bags of books (which I either got for great prices at used book stores or library and church sales. And for my husband, he is getting a pair of jeans, sweatshirt and candy (he is a dark chocolate candy lover). I pretty much had a rebate, coupon or found coupon codes for everything I bought this year.

So, overall this Christmas, I have only spent $545.08. I do have a couple more items to get for extended family, but I am feeling like it is not enough for my kids. Has anyone else had transition years where purchasing for their older teens and adult children become less. I just don't want this year to be the year of disappointment. The year where they remember they didn't get as much or what they want. It is causing my a lot of anxiety, but I think it needs to be done.

Well, Merry Christmas everyone. I am also looking forward to a prosperous New Year and have a plan in place. It just needs to be tweaked a bit.

Daughter's Birthday - over budget

December 10th, 2011 at 02:17 pm

So I went over budget on my Daughter's 20th Birthday.

Gifts: $40.18
Dessert: Sanders Hot Fudge Ice Cream Puffs $13.00
Dinner Out for 6 at Bar Louie's: $105.84
TOTAL: $159.02

I went over by $59.02. I will have to budget a little better next year.

Passive Income

December 10th, 2011 at 02:06 pm

Adding $18.04 from a class action settlement to my passive income total.

Previous Amount: $285.69
Add monies: $18.04
New Total: $303.73

Passive Income

December 8th, 2011 at 01:25 pm

Adding another $3.00 from Pinecone to my passive income total.

Previous Amount: $282.69
Add monies: $3.00
New Total: $285.69