Saturday, March 31, 2007
Last night, my wife said for the umpteenth time a line along the lines "If the cloth diapers don't work for our daughter..." This time I challenged her on it, asking if she had read something about kids not liking cloth diapers or that some children are born allergic to cotton (that would be a hard life). That statement was more coming from all the comments that my wife has heard from other moms about our decision, even from a lady that used to do cloth diapers. The only opinion I asked about was the one that had done it before, which her opinion is that she's an elderly lady now and wouldn't want to wash them now.
The numbers I've seen we'll be saving ($2200-$3000 over 2 years of diapers), far outweighs the work. I'd much rather put that money in our daughter's college fund than our convenience. I can just imagine telling my daughter when she goes to college "Daughter, I'm sorry that we don't have any saved for you for college, we wanted convenience for your diapers, we wanted cable TV, a new car, eating out all the time instead. They were more important to us than your education." I'd much rather say "We put you through cloth diapers so that we could give you $15,000 for high school graduation."
Luckily, it was just a loose wire that they ended up charging us $56 to replace and secure. Add the towing of $75, came out to a $131 repair. Since I was careful not to use some extra money we had in the account, we just paid the bill. It feels great to just be able to do that.
This solidified our plans to get a second beater, paid with cash, just in case for when this happens again (and it will, all cars die out, especially ones at 192K miles that you can start without a key...It's a bug, not a feature). Once we have $3K in the emergency fund, I plan on purchasing a fuel-efficient hatchback with 80K miles or less for under $1500 (seen on Craigslist that it can be done), then having license plates, oil change, tune-up, and anything else taken care of right away for under $500.
$2600 My day job
$250 My part-time jobs
$300 Auto Gas
$244 Natural Gas
$40 House Phone
$158 Cell Phone
$95 Life Insurance
$25 Wife's Haircut
$1238 Savings/Tax Return
$40 Garden & Driveway Repair
$125 Baby/Wife Clothing
$10 Job Chargebacks
$10 Capital One
$10 Dr. Bill
$10 Friends we owe
$30 Dining Out
$30 Wife's Fun Money
$30 My Fun Money
$3950 TotalThis month we're building the savings, but it's probably going to go all to paying taxes (yuck). That's for another post. I had to cut back on my Garden & Driveway repair project money, but it will just force me to be creative (eg: take rocks from one side of our house to cover our driveway). We owe $500 to friends that basically told us "We want you to build an emergency fund first before you pay us back." Due to a series of events, this year they adopted a child and are expecting one as well in a few months, so we want to start paying them something since this is the first month we'll have more than a couple hundred dollars in the bank.
I also surprised my wife in a good way by taking our fun money out at the beginning of the month. My old habit was that I would take it out near the end "if we have the funds", which something "so important" would come up and we'd have to wait another month. I think that $30 for each of us will help us feel so much better about the budget than it will hurt us in the month.
The natural gas is the last month of it being this high, in May we will be at the monthly payment plan of $145. I know cell-phone is high, not much we can adjust on it right now, but if someone chips in the money for their phone this month it will be lower (They did last month, but then the following week asked if they could borrow money from us. We said no.).
Baby/Wife Clothing, I know some people may go "Why you spending so much on clothes?". We've decided to go with cloth diapers that my wife is making instead of disposable diapers, which I'll cover in another post.
Wednesday, March 28, 2007
My father was told last week that due to rheumatoid arthritis, he will need to have his legs amputated if he doesn't move to a warm/dry environment (eg: Arizona). His legs are worse off than a 90 year old's legs, yet he is just a bit over 50 (with 2 knee replacements under his belt). He needs special socks and shoes that would help and cost $200, but because he has been giving my siblings money (they are 19 & 22, living with him), he does not have the money to do it. Their problems have also been taking his free time, so he hasn't scheduled a follow-up visit for additional testing as well.
Monday, March 26, 2007
Our current one we suspect will be dying this year. We'd hate to be in the situation of having a dead car and none to rely on to find a replacement. I know we could rent a car for a week to search for a car, but that may not be enough time and would cost money. The other item we're looking at is that my wife is needing our car 2x a week, which she takes me to work and picks me up those two days. It comes out to an extra 350 miles a month, which is about $35 in gas. The insurance for our current car is $25/month and we would probably be looking at the same amount for another car.
Summary of options:
1. Stay with one car = $35/month in extra gas and mileage. When it doesn't work anymore, quickly locate a replacement.
2. Buy a second car = $25/month in insurance, two vehicles that will need oil changes and repairs. When one of them dies, we have the second one to use.
Which one to go with?
Saturday, March 24, 2007
Sadly, I installed some today for a job, 2 & 1/2 hours of work for $100. That doesn't count the amount my boss makes off of it, etc. We are so inundated with advertising, one doesn't even think about the people trying to sell you items while you go about your daily life, like filling up gas.
Today's lesson: Advertising affects your perception of what's a need and what's a want.
Friday, March 23, 2007
- Tomorrow I'm going to a convenience store to put together a display above their coffee machine. Time: 2 hours maximum. Pay: $100.
- For the Easter season, a manufacturer of small toy cars shipped baskets without prices on them. My wife yesterday went to a local giant all-in-one shop, told them what the prices are to be, applied prices to the baskets and prepared them for display. Time: 45 minutes. Pay: $12
- Every 2 weeks my wife goes to a local high-end clothing store at a mall nearby, fixes the display of a certain brand of purses and stocks new purses. Time: 30 minutes. Pay: $8
- My wife received a shipment of calling cards, brought them to a local grocery store, had them check them in and stock them. Time: 20 minutes. Pay: Unknown.
I didn't list exact companies, but these are companies that have employees present that are able to do these activities without our assistance. If I had named them, you probably would recognize them. My wondering is why in the world do these companies outsource such activities to "third parties" such as my wife and I, instead of using the staff that are already there.
Lesson for today: If you are willing to do some searching, you can get paid well to do the easiest of tasks.
Thursday, March 22, 2007
So, instead of going through that roller coaster of emotions, she decided we needed to talk about the money to come before it comes. That way, she knows it's not "extra money" but it's money that has a purpose and goal. In the end, the way we decided it's going to go is 10% Tithe and 90% emergency fund, but on the condition that we ensure that every month she has $30 of "fun money" , or as in our budget, sewing supplies. That way, she doesn't have that feeling of things being so tight she can't have any fun, but at the same time we're hitting our goals of getting rid of the sick beast called debt.
Chiropractor $24 - This one we've been paying $10/month for a while when we could, my wife loved the chiropractor and the chiropractor gave her a discount due to financial issues, but once my wife got insurance (that didn't cover chiropractors), they started charging full rate. Our finances hadn't changed though. I'm sooo glad to be done with them.
Radiological $18 - This one they probably had written off their books already (I used to do medical billing), but we owe it and I don't want any $18 coming to haunt me years from now.
I-Pass $12.10 - My wife is taking care of this one today, it's been one of those little sores in your mouth that you just want to get rid of. This one though not just needs the $12.10, but we need to bring it about 45 minutes north of us with the tollway transponder to return. My job now is not too far from there, so she's going to take me to work and then run by over there.
If we can keep up the emotional getting rid of a bill a month, we'll be out of credit card & personal debt in 29 months now. (For now I'm not even worrying about getting out of the student loan and mortgage...That's 3 years from now).
Monday, March 19, 2007
1. Wife is on Medicaid due to our low income the past 6 months.
2. Baby is due May 21st.
3. Income for April from the 1st to the 16th will be gross of $4,400.
4. Wife has a pacemaker, which makes it pretty much impossible to get a normal health insurance policy for her.
5. My new employer's health benefits do not start up until I have worked there 6 months.
My wife is going to call the Medicaid office on Wednesday to see what our options are when our income does increase. I know our state has another program for those that can't get insured normally, but I don't know if they will cover the pregnancy that is pre-existing, etc...
Sunday, March 18, 2007
Here's what we're thinking about doing to get ourselves out of debt:
- April, May and June we will save $1K/month for our emergency fund. Since we have no credit available to us at this time, we need to have enough to purchase a replacement vehicle as well as for any other emergency that may come up.
- July we make a settlement to our smallest credit card (balance is currently $1545, but about 400 of that is fees we have received).
- August, September & October we save up to make a settlement on our next smallest credit card ($3629).
- Next 18 months after that repeat the same pattern. Afterwards settle small 0% medical bills outstanding.
Having some inspiration today, I realized that before we got married, I had my future wife file for bankruptcy in order for us to "start fresh" but that if we had kept her bills and learned the lessons 3 years ago that we're learning now, we'd be in a much better place financially than we are now. As I told her though today, we can have no regrets and can only change our actions in the future.
Today's lesson: Don't file bankruptcy, God can use your debts to help you grow into a wise person. If you do file, you might just be in the same situation a few years down the line.
Saturday, March 17, 2007
She started out with a pay-for-membership one, but doing some research, she was able to find a few free ones and has a few scheduled now every week for the next 3 weeks. I recommend it for anyone getting out of debt and still wanting to have the "fun of shopping". Just make sure to leave your credit/debit card at home and bring cash only.
Last of all, it's nice to get checks in the mail instead of bills. She just got her first payment in the mail for an hour of rearranging purses at a local shopping mall.
Really though, I have made some minor changes to my site today. It comes due to some bad choices made this week in regards to trying to gain money quickly. I found on Sunday a site that lets you win real cash with none of your own money. I tried to convince myself "It's not gambling, I'm not losing money out of my pocket, etc..." But the heart of the matter is that the actions are gambling. Well, on their site as well you can sign up for promotions and get money also. That got me thinking that if they can give money away for trying the promotions, they've got to be making money off of them too.
So on the right side of this site now I have a couple of sites I would promote with no objections. Here's the details on them:
- Entertainment book - I have owned one of these for the past two years and I love them. If your going to go out to eat once a month trying new restaurants, you might as well save 50%. The best time to buy though is NOW because you get in essence free food. The books in my area are going for $18 ($17 book, $1 shipping) and they are including a $25 restaurant certificate. You do the math.
- DentalPlans - Once we get our emergency fund back up, I'm signing up for this again. Now yes, you can get discounts by negotiating with your dentist directly (or not go to the dentist at all). What this does though is what I call the "guilt factor". It forces you to do the things that you should be doing, so you don't waste the plan that you purchase. In addition, if you have a family, the costs for it become very reasonable.
Friday, March 16, 2007
Imagine a future with limited resources and many people in debt due to past excesses. The "Masters" (Visa & Card) have instituted extreme measures in order to "help mankind survive" by
controlling the day-to-day lives of those in debt, so much so that they have instituted murdering a debtor's children. They do this in order to relieve the "financial burden" that the children impose upon their parents and that it would free up money that they would have spent feeding/clothing their children to help repay the debts owed and help mankind overall.
My nightmares often though have silver linings, in which this one they were trying to kill Christian children and everything they were trying was not working and was actually backfiring, almost killing those trying to kill the children...
Thursday, March 15, 2007
I bring this up because a female came in with a male friend wanting to buy a $60K car. Something like that isn't unusual there, but the unusual part is she recently bought a 2006 car for $25K and wanted to buy the second one with no cash down, keeping the first one. The salesmen had the hardest time trying to explain to her that with how much she makes, the bank is going to turn her down with nothing down. They had several people try to explain to her the situation, asked if he was planning on co-signing for it, etc.
I was SO tempted to go to her and say "Why do you think you deserve a $60K car? You don't even make that much in a year!" She was acting like a 3 year old at a toy store with the first salesman in the mood of "I want my $60K car!"
What that means to me:
1. We can pay the mortgage ON TIME with no late fees. We were able to do that once in the past 9 months, but it will be nice to know we can do it again next month.
2. Can actually see myself reaching for the goal of becoming debt free. It has been something I have been hoping for, but it won't feel like a possibility until tomorrow.
3. Even though this employer pays me a little less than what I was making a year ago, it feels like so much more because we have been living on so little the past 6 months.
I have to head off to work and make it happen.
"Steady plodding brings prosperity, hasty speculation brings poverty." - Proverbs 21:5
Wednesday, March 14, 2007
1. How long are they planning on storing the stuff? For them, it's uncertain so it may be at least 6 months.
2. How much is the stuff worth? The stuff is not worth that much.
3. Are they going to miss the items if they were sold? They haven't missed them in the 6 months it has been at our house.
4. Do you really have the money to store the stuff? The answer for them is definitely no. They don't have a home of their own as it is.
Overall, I'm hoping they will wake up like I did recently and realize that there are more things to life than stuff.
Friday, March 9, 2007
Due to her work schedule Saturday night and our bible study on Sunday, I'll be taking her out to dinner at 8 PM on Sunday. I have a $25 gift certificate from Restaurant.com for a nearby Italian restaurant (minimum purchase of $35, 15% gratuity). Got the thing for free last May somehow, don't remember exactly how. That'll probably come out to $16.
Total cash costs = $20.
Value to our marriage = Priceless.
Thursday, March 8, 2007
My goals for the next 6-9 months starting in April are to put aside $300/month for when this vehicle needs it's next major project or when we just go out and spend $2K on another vehicle. It's going to be tough to do (in addition to saving $300/month for house maintenance projects and $200/month paying ourselves), but I know we'll find a way to make it through the next 6 months.
I know looking back in 6 months, when we have somewhere around $3K in the bank ($2K for the car, $1K in emergency fund), I will feel I can do anything!
1. Bought a large 5 bedroom house in a cheap neighborhood. Mortgage = -$1000
2. All utilities on entire house = -$500
3. A total of 3 of the bedrooms rented out = $1100
Leaving us responsible for $400. We bought this house for the purpose of sharing it with another family (that didn't go as planned), but put some ads on Craigslist and screened roommates. We have been blessed with no real problems with roommates (besides occasional everyone wanting to take a shower at the same time...luckily there are two bathrooms) and it has been fun to share life with them. If things got REALLY tight financially, we probably could rent out one more bedroom, but first we need to get rid of stuff we're storing for that family that was supposed to move in with us.
The only bad side of this is that we are going to have some improvements coming up this year that are required. I am limiting them to ones to bring the house back to a livable shape or cost me minimally out of pocket. They are repairing the driveway after we replaced the water line this past January, install front storm door (reduce drafts in the winter), and install insulation everywhere I can.
Tuesday, March 6, 2007
She asked me if I was in the mood to go out to eat, I explained I wasn't really and that I'm more interested in getting us out of debt. I also reminded her of the week trip we had just done last month. It hurts me to not be able to do the things we/she want, but we got ourselves into this mess through lack of self-control and bad choices.
That evening we had another related event happen, where she picked up a "Free" glossy magazine called "goingplaces" and it was filled with events over the summer (festivals, etc), that cost money. It was like a giant walking billboard. It brought her mood down like a rock knowing that we don't have the money to go to those things. The second time around I was able to handle it a better, different way..."Before you had picked up that magazine, your mood was great. Once you realized it had stuff you couldn't have, it brought your mood down. We don't have to spend money to have fun, there will always be items no matter what that are out of our reach." That last part I got from my reading of "The Richest Man In Babylon".
That comes out to a bit over $22/month for car insurance! So many of the experts that say you should pay cash for a car so that your not paying a car payment every month, but the item they don't mention is how much you save on your insurance as well. I love having no car payment!
Friday, March 2, 2007
What I'm talking about is, do you have a birthday party? A baby shower? What about 6 days away to see relatives (which they pay part of you coming out) and receive a station wagon full of baby supplies for going there?
This all started because we had an emergency in January, which our church helped us out in. My wife misses her family very much and we try to see them once a year, even though they are a 16 hour drive away. My best friend from high school was getting married in February right near my in-laws and we were going to go in January, but the emergency came up. At the end of January, we looked at the budget, what it would cost us to go out of town in lost wages, made some sacrifices (eg: sold the big screen TV that was in our living room back to my father), and made the decision to go.
My wonderful wife (not being sarcastic with that) has also been planning a secret daddy baby shower, to celebrate me becoming a daddy in a couple of months. Our pastor called my wife today questioning about the baby shower and my wife got on the defense/offense and in the end the pastor said in so many words that we cannot have any members of the church there, otherwise the baby shower will have to abide by their regulations. He commented about it not being a wise use of our funds about the trip, about spending money on a party, using food stamps to pay for food for the party, and that the daddy doesn't need a baby shower. We have scheduled a face-to-face discussion about this on Wednesday night as well.
I hope no one takes this as a bashing of church, as I am a firm believer in Christ and that he put his church in the world to shine His Love for the world. I bring these up for discussion, do you stop buying soda to get out of debt?
How far is enough, how far is too far?
For a limited time only, you can have a paid off bill to hang on your wall. We've started our own collection on our bedroom wall, but we don't want to deprive others of the pleasure of having the latest piece of art on their walls. I have a bill that will be autographed with a personal thank you note just waiting for you!
Here's the details:
1. Select from the following list your desired piece of art:
Doctor - $18
Chiropractic - $34
Radiological - $48.67
Restaurant Bad Check - $50
Medical Test - $56
Birth Control Bounced Check - $64.73
Dish Network Final Bill - $121.83
ComEd Final Bill (Previous Home) - $170.00
Phone Final Bill (Previous Home) - $171.77
And many more available!!! Our entire art collection is available for the low price of $195,493.19 (includes the bill for our home)!
2. Contact us for your interest in acquiring it with a phone number to reach you at to discuss transfer of property.
3. On the phone, we'll provide you details of the bill, who the payment needs to be made out to and where to mail the payment.
4. You can choose to receive a scanned copy of the bill in order to validate that the bill is not a forgery.
5. Once confirmation has been received that the bill has been paid for, we will mail you your original piece of art with our heart filled thanks written all over it.
Hurry fast, these will be going quicker than hotcakes in the middle of winter!
My wife has gone through thick and thin, when she first moved to Illinois, she was living in her car for a period of time. She moved here because she felt God leading her away from a bad relationship and her closest biblical friend was moving to the Chicago area.
Later, when things got better, her friend and their husband needed cell phones, my wife needed a cell phone and they talked quite a bit on the phone. So the idea was, "They're like family, let's get a family plan so we can get free mobile-to-mobile minutes together! It'll save us money!". So in our "destitute of mind" days, we got a large family plan.
Move up a bit later and the two of them are relying on the phones for their business, but they keep getting dropped calls. So in our "destitute of mind" days, we drop the plan (and incur a large fee), go with another carrier and they say "Hey, your husband should get a phone too..." and "We know another guy that desparately needs help getting on his feet...". Before you know it the phone plan has 5 phones and is at $400/month.
Fast-forward to today. The guy that has the 5th phone hasn't been calling us back to check on the status of his needing the phone and seeing if he can chip any money into the phone plan (he still uses it very little). My phone was given to the other family due to my anger last summer about the phone situation. My wife dropped some services on the phones to cut costs recently, but half the bill is still $160/month (I know, we're paying 1/2 the bill for 1/5 the service, that's another subject I don't know how to talk to my wife about).
The good thing about this is that my wife has changed her view on this and is seeking to get this split so that we have only one phone and are not co-signing again. I had tried to argue my point of view on this and it didn't work. Only until broken promises occurred regarding the other half of the payment started occurring month after month did this view come about.
Today's Lesson - DO NOT CO-SIGN. THERE IS A REASON WHOEVER WON'T EXTEND CREDIT TO THEM.
"A man lacking in judgment strikes hands in pledge and puts up security for his neighbor." Proverbs 17:18