Weekly Money Check-In

Here is my weekly money check-in courtesy of My Pretty Pennies.

1. The most I spent this last week was on rent. Nothing too exciting, but it was a large chunk.

2. Today I am thankful for such an amazing Hubs. I have been grumpy all day, but he came home and made it all better. He is so good at listening to me and making me feel better.

3. Money can’t buy happiness. One free thing I did last week that made me happy was play the Wii with the Hubs. We have been playing MarioKart like crazy. I am not very good at it, but it is a lot of fun… And I may have to admit that our competitive side comes out a bit. It’s not that pretty at times.

4. I will consider this week a success if I survive. I am exhausted today and the thought of an entire week still stretched out in front of me is daunting. I know I will make it, though!

5. When I was a kid, I wanted to be a teacher when I grew up. And I did it! When I was in 4th grade, I made the decision that I wanted to be a teacher. I have never thought of any other career path. Even though there are many days that really frustrate me, I know deep in my heart that there is no other job for me.

Sunday Night Chit Chat

Carla hosts a Sunday Night Chit Chat each week. I started last week, and am excited to share with you what I have been up to today.

What Are You…

Reading?
I have been working on the book Solace of the Road by Siobhan Dowd. It is a young adult fiction book for my children’s literature class. It is interesting so far. I started it on Thursday and am half way finished with it. It has been pretty interesting, and it is an easy read.

Watching?
Right now I am watching 60 Minutes. It is about hunting endangered/extinct animals in Texas. It is apparently legal. I don’t quite know what to think about it all.

Listening to?
60 Minutes and the dishwasher.

Cooking/Baking?
I made spaghetti for dinner. It was an easy meal with leftovers for lunch. I made a big salad that Hubs and I will take for lunch tomorrow. I also “made” cookies. Actually Pillsbury made them and I just popped them in the oven for about 13 minutes.

Happy you accomplished this week?
I got all the laundry done! And the kitchen is clean! Those are pretty great things, if you ask me. Also, Bandit got a bath. Not too shabby for one week.

Looking forward to next week?
I am looking forward to February 2. It’s Groundhog’s Day, and I have some fun activities planned for my first graders. I think they will enjoy them and have a blast! I am also just happy that we are starting a new month this week!

Thankful for today?
Health insurance. I looked at our bills and what we still have left to pay on medical bills. It is more than I had budgeted. For next month we have about $600.00 left to pay, which we will be able to do in February. I went through all of our bills and wanted to see how our insurance played out. Here are the numbers:
At the end of it all, we will have paid $978.37. This is a big chunk of change. It has really put a crimp in our budget, and was not an expense that we were expecting, but we have managed.
I added up all the actual charges, and if we did not have my health insurance we would have had to pay $9,758.80. That means that insurance took care of about 90% of the charges. That is not something to complain about! Each bill was a kick in the gut and was not something we wanted to pay, but after looking at the actual amount, I can’t complain.

Not much else to report! Hope your weekend went well, and did not go too quickly!

February Challenges

February is right around the corner. I am not sure how it got here so quickly, but I am not complaining. As I have mentioned before, Carla is having not one, but two challenges for February! She was the one who hosted the No (Low) Spend January challenge (which did not turn out so well for me– I will do a full recap in a day or so).

For February the challenges are a declutter challenge and another low (no) spend challenge. I am partaking in both of them.

For the decluttering challenge, there are four main areas of decluttering (one for each week). I will be posting before and after photos for each challenge, so be looking for them at the end of each week!Here are my specific goals for each week in February:

Week 1: Personal Space Challenge
My personal space challenge is actually going to be a work-place challenge. My goal is to declutter the back counter in my classroom as well as my desk. When I declutter my desk, that means my drawers and everything on my desk. It is a disaster right now!

Week 2: Family Space Challenge
I did a lot of decluttering at the beginning of January, so I don’t feel like there are many places in the house that really need decluttered. The one place that does need help is where I organize all of the bills, receipts, mail, etc. It is on our kitchen counter and is a bit of a mess all the time. It isn’t terrible, but it drives me a little crazy whenever I look at it.

Week 3: Productivity Challenge
I think this is the challenge I am most looking forward to. I always want to improve my productivity, so this will be a great way to start! There will be two parts to this challenge. The first part of the challenge will be to make lunches for Hubs and I the night before. I always make our lunches, but I do it the morning of work, but it takes more time than I want.
The second part of this challenge is to use up what we have in our house. I went grocery shopping today and as I was putting stuff away, I realized that we have a lot of stuff. I need to start using it instead of just letting it hang out in our pantry.

Week 4: The “Dreaded” Challenge
For this week, I will attempt to organize and declutter the garage. Now, this is going to depend quite a bit on the weather. If the temp is too cold, then I am not forcing myself to be in the garage and freeze while trying to declutter. This is going to take a long time and be hard work, but I have put it off long enough.
*If it is too cold, then my “dreaded” challenge will be the kitchen. It isn’t terrible, but it definitely needs decluttered more often than I admit to.

My low (no) spend challenge for February is one that I have read about before from somewhere. Each time I go to the grocery store (or any store) and use my savings card or coupons, I will take the amount that I saved and transfer it into my savings account. I know it won’t be much each week, but I am hoping to save an extra $20-$50 for the month of February. I may put a counter in the sidebar to track this. If it goes well, then I may keep it up for the rest of the year and see where we end up!

My other financial challenge for February is to pay off the rest of the medical bills from the miscarriage. It will be steep (and it has ended up being more than I have budgeted), and I will probably have to cut back my normal amount to the credit card, but I want them to be done with sooner rather than later.

Let me know if you are interested in joining one or both of the challenges! Carla is linking everyone on her website. Don’t worry, you don’t have to have a blog to join! Just comment now to join, and then with each check-in you can comment on your progress!

100 Days

No, the post title is not in reference to how long it has been since I blogged, although it feels that way. Today was the 100th day of school!

Let me tell you, the 100th day of school is a big thing for first graders. I know that when I was in school, I had no idea what day of school it was. I just went when they told me and stopped when they told me. Now, we have so much emphasis on calendar time during math, that we track our days of school using tallies, money, straws, everything.

100 days is the cause for celebration, and celebrate is what we did! I have to say that I loved being able to ignore my normal schedule and do fun stuff! I read 3 books about the 100th day of school, and we did some super fun stuff! We made 100 day masks (which I did not get any pictures of), we made 100 thumbprint caterpillars, and a 100 day book.

One of the main things we focus on during our 100th day of school is that 100 is 10 groups of 10. To do this we made 10 caterpillars each with 10 thumbprints. The kids loved this! They got to use stamp pads to make the thumbprints, and they thought that was pretty awesome! Here are a few pictures. I think they are super cute!

Aren’t they darling!!

Now for a financial update. This week has been great! I went to the grocery store on Monday for minimal things. I spent around $30.00. Then we had 3 no-spend days in a row! Hubs went out to dinner on Wednesday, but his sweet friend paid the bill, so nothing out of the account. I went out to dinner last night, but I used my MAD money, so nothing out of the account again! Woo-hoo!

I did spend $15 on a shirt (actually it is a donation to the American Heart Association). $5 came out of my MAD money, and $10 came out of the clothing envelope. It was all cash, and nothing out of the account.

Today I filled up my car, and Hubs picked up our Friday night cheap-o pizza for less than $10. I am rather happy with how the end of January is turning out. Not too shabby!

Carla over at My 1/2 Dozen Daily is hosting 2 more challenges for February. I will be taking part in them and will be posting my rules and guidelines this weekend. Hop on over and check it out!

I hope everyone’s January is wrapping up nicely… I can’t believe it’s almost February!

*Edited to add: I haven’t found out any more information about my possible good news yet. I had a meeting on Thursday, but came away with no more information than I knew before the meeting. It is getting frustrating. The person I met with said I probably wouldn’t know either way until the end of February. I promise I will let you know if it is in fact good news or bad news as soon as I find out. Sorry, my loyal readers.

I’m Back

It’s been a while since I have blogged. Things have been pretty busy this week, and in all honesty I have been hiding from my blog. This week has not been good financially. The Wii is costing a lot more money than we had initially thought. We spent quite a bit getting another remote, charging station, steering wheels, etc. Then we spent some more to get some games. I feel completely guilty about it all. I also haven’t updated my checkbook and spreadsheet lately… That is #1 on my to do list for tomorrow.

Today I went shopping with my mom. I had a couple of things in mind and some extra money from envelopes in my wallet. The main reason we went out was for me to finish buying my mom her Christmas present.

My family picks names for Christmas an I got her name. We all have a limit of $50.00 for the gift. One of the items she wanted was a local college t-shirt. She wanted it long-sleeved and gray. Now this should have been easy, but it wasn’t. I went to about 10 places and did not find anything that would have worked for her. I ended up spending $25.00 on other items and put aside $25.00 for the shirt. We went out shopping today and found her a shirt finally! It was even less than $25.00, and she let me keep the change. That means $3 back into the gift envelope and some change into our jar.

While we were out I was also looking for a fogless mirror for Hubs. The razor I bought him earlier this week can be used in the shower. By using it in the shower it doesn’t burn as much. I found him one at Bed, Bath, and Beyond for $17.99 + tax. This was the only money today that came out of our checking account.

Mom treated me to lunch, so no money out for that. I also took some clothing money from our envelope ($20.00) and went to Old Navy. Our Old Navy is closing soon, so they had some amazing sales! I was able to get 3 new shirts for $10.04. I had the 4 pennies, so I only spent $10 from our clothing envelope. Woo-hoo! Not too shabby!

Tomorrow won’t be a no-spend since Hubs has to fill up his car, and I am going to stop at the grocery store after work and grab a few things. Hopefully we can make it the rest of the week without anything other than bills. I think we can. I think we can.

Now for something more fun to post about. Each Sunday night Carla has a Sunday Night Chit-Chat. I thought I would jump in and share what I am doing tonight.

What are you reading? I need to go to the library to find a book for my book club that I just joined. Other than that I was reading An Elementary School Educator’s Guide to Program Evaluation: Getting Answers to Your Questions. I know, don’t all jump up at once to borrow it from me. It is for one of my Master’s classes and is about as fun as it sounds.

What are you watching? Currently the NFL playoff game is on the tv, but I haven’t really been watching it. Before this I was doing homework. The only good thing about Monday being tomorrow is that all of my shows are back for the week. We have at least one show to watch each night so it gives me something to look forward to.

What are you listening to? Playoff game. And my snoring pups.

What are you cooking/baking? Tonight I made pasta toss which is an easy favorite around here. I am hoping to get some ingredients at the store tomorrow and will attempt to make some homemade bread later this week.

What are you happy you accomplished this week? Well, the easy thing is that I beat Hubs a couple times at Mariokart. That isn’t the main thing I am happy about, though. I am happy that I am all planned for the upcoming week at school. I have been doing a pretty good job at keeping up with it and staying on top of planning, copying, and grading. It makes the week much easier.

What are you looking forward to next week?
Hopefully making my good news official. I still have not gotten the official word about my good news, but it should be this week. If not, then I am just going to have to do something about that.

What are you thankful for today? Having my mom so close-by. The entire time I was in college and my first two years out of college my parents lived 8 hours away in Tennessee. I never had the opportunity to just meet up with her on the weekend and hang out. I love the fact that I get to do that these days. It is fantastic!

Your turn! Feel free to answer these questions on your blog or in my comments! I would love to hear about your week!

Happy Hump Day!

It’s Wednesday! Sometimes these short weeks seem longer than normal weeks. This week has been no exception. Yesterday my students were little jewels. Today, not so much. I still love them to pieces though.

I have a financial update, and it’s not so pretty, so beware.

The last time we were together was on Sunday. Things have not gone according to plan since then.

On Monday I went grocery shopping and ended up spending more than I had expected. We were out of about everything, so it ended up being about $127 and some change. Yikes!

On Tuesday I was expecting a no-spend (aside from bills) day… BUT- Tuesday morning the Hubs went to turn on his electric razor, and it would not turn on. He has to be clean shaven for his job, so this was not a good thing. We couldn’t get it to work at all, so he had to bite the bullet and go in to work a little scruffy. That meant I had to run to Wal-mart after work to get a new razor.

Boy are they expensive!! He wanted a special razor that can dispense shave gel as he is shaving. I bought the razor and a couple refills of the shave gel stuff. Total came in at $102 and some change. Yikes! That was not expected at all, and will come out of our emergency savings. (It was an emergency since he does have to shave everyday for work.)

Hubs also filled up his car yesterday, although I haven’t checked his receipt. It is usually around $35 to $40, though. (Don’t worry, I plan on entering everything into our spreadsheet and checkbook this evening, so I will know the exact amounts then.)

This evening Hubs is picking up a cheap-o pizza for dinner because I have some good news to share! I can’t share it with you right now (it is not 100% official, but should be soon– like hopefully within the week). And no, I am not pregnant.
As soon as I get the ok, you guys will be the next to know!

Basically this no (low) spend thing is turning out to be a bust. I am ready to start over and try it again, though. I want to make it work!

I hope everyone is having a great hump day (Wednesday, for those who are not familiar with that saying)! I hope to be back tomorrow– hopefully with good news. If not, then probably on Friday with good news. I am sure you all are on the edge of your seats waiting to see what will happen next. 🙂

Until then…

Weekend’s Not Over!

I love three-day weekends! It’s Sunday night. I’m snuggled on the couch and don’t have to worry about getting up early tomorrow for work. It is fantastic!

Another great thing about today is that it was a no-spend day! I meant to stop at the store and get a newspaper for the coupons, but by the time I remembered, it was too late. I figured I could manage a week without them.

Another great thing about today is that I got my refund check from my college. When I figure out how much I want for a loan, I usually tack on about $100 to make sure that my books are covered. The check is for $114, and my books cost about half of that. This covers my books, and gives us a little extra to throw back into our emergency fund.

Today has been a good day. I spent the morning getting some things done for work. I also got the downstairs vacuumed and hope to vacuum the upstairs tomorrow. This afternoon I went to my parents’ house, and Mom and I took the dogs for a long hike. I only had Rose with me, but she seems quite worn out now (woo-hoo!). Now Hubs and I are snuggled on the couch with the pups watching the Golden Globes. It has been a nice day.

Tomorrow will not be a no-spend. I have to go grocery shopping and fill up the cars. If I fill up the cars tomorrow, then we will hopefully have no-spend days on Wednesday and Thursday. I have a bill that is supposed to come out on Tuesday, so that won’t be a no-spend.

The one thing I have noticed during this no (low) spend challenge is that I really don’t do much impulse shopping. I also realize that I have bills come out of our account on so many different days that it makes no-spend days much more difficult than I thought. For February, I think I may need to completely define what a no-spend day is. For now I will stick to my definition of no-spending, no matter what.

How is your no (low) spend challenge going?

Saturday

Another no no-spend day. Hubs and I bought a few accessories for the Wii. If we did not buy these, then we would not be able to use the Wii (since our TV is so new, the Wii will not connect to it without an additional box). We also bought pizza for lunch, and will eat it for dinner. I let Hubs know that tomorrow really needs to be a no-spend day. We haven’t had one in a while, and we have enough to eat at home, that we don’t need to eat out.

Looking at the upcoming calendar, I am hoping that next Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday will be no-spend days. I will need to make sure to fill my car up on Monday to make sure that happens.

I haven’t done much today. I was supposed to go scrapbooking at a friend’s house, but I have had a killer headache most of the day, so I chose not to go. I have been working on updating my calendars in my home binder (one of my resolutions) and getting the next 5 months’ budgets ready. The outlook seems pretty good (barring any emergencies.)

I have also been working on another resolution. I resolved to open and use an ING savings account. I actually had one that I used when I first started teaching, but I haven’t used it in years. I didn’t know my customer number or anything like that.

Well, I finally got logged in, but it was still linked to my old checking account (that is now closed). In order for me to link it to my new, joint checking account, I have to send a check with all matching information. Well, that is not possible because my ING account is still in my maiden name, but the joint account is in my married name. I emailed customer service, so hopefully I will hear back soon what I need to do, so I can get it going. Once it is up and going, I will probably use it for at least one of our envelope accounts that we have. I will also be able to split up our savings money into subcategories. I think it will be a very good move for us.

Wish us the best for tomorrow to be a no-spend. We need another one these days!

Now for a little rant:
I don’t really understand people who are having financial hardships but continue to ignore the fact that they can control that and change it. These people are the ones who ignore the idea of a budget or think they are stupid. They are struggling with money and have trouble making ends meet, but continue to spend on things that are not truly NEEDS. It bothers me when people buy newer, better things, when what they already have work just fine. (Especially when those things are bought on credit and not with cash.)

I realize that we are guilty of doing this, as we have a relatively new TV (that we paid cash for) even though we had a big bulky one that still worked. The latest purchases though have been because what we had previously had stopped working completely (Hubs’ PS3) or were so worthless, they weren’t even worth using (Hubs’ desktop computer). I realize that we don’t NEED a Wii, but playing video games is pretty much the only entertainment that Hubs partakes in. We probably didn’t NEED a new computer, and could have just shared my laptop. But I use my laptop for a lot of photo processing, and some days it is impossible to share. My computer is old, and I have a feeling that I will need a new one in a year or so, so I don’t think that two people using it would have worked for a long time. We do make sure that when we make a purchase like the two I mentioned, we pay cash and don’t have to continue paying for it for the next 5 years or so. The computer and Wii are ours… no payments or interest.

I understand that everyone has the freedom to spend money freely, and if they want to dig their hole deeper, then maybe I should just wish them the best. I guess that if I had a problem, then I would prefer to try and fix it (as we are doing now) instead of just ignoring it and letting it get worse.

In the end if someone wants to buy something on credit, then they are completely free to do that. I just wish that they wouldn’t then complain about not having any money or being shocked at that month’s credit card bill.

*Rant over*

No Spend: No Good

Today is a new financial month in our household. I got paid today, so I get to use a new spreadsheet (which always looks so nice and pretty at the beginning of the month– not much red on there). This financial month will end on February 15th. It is much easier for me to control things when it goes from payday to payday instead of from the first of the month to the first of the month.

Yesterday and today are not so good for no (low) spend January. Yesterday Hubs had his swearing-in ceremony for his new job. My dad came with me to the ceremony, and then all of us met my mom for dinner afterwards. I had a gift certificate to a Japanese Steakhouse, so we went there. Even with the gift certificate, it was quite a splurge for us. We enjoyed the dinner out and the company, so that was nice. We can afford the dinner with no problem, but it does not help the no (low) spend goals for January.

Today is also not a good day because we are purchasing a new laptop and Wii. The laptop will be paid for from some savings (we have known this day was coming, and have been putting some aside for it). It will not make us go in the red or cause us stress in our finances, but I wish we could be able to put the money in savings. Hubs is buying the Wii with his own money. This includes his MAD money that we get each month to spend how we want, and some Christmas money that he saved. I am not counting this against us for the no (low) spend January since it is his money, and he can use it how he wants. (I am counting the computer against us though, even though we have been saving).

Also, I got another medical bill (hopefully the last). This one is steeper than most of the others, but will keep us under the $300.00 a month if I wait until next month to pay it (which I hope I can). This one is for the anesthesiologist. As I said before, I really hope this is the last one. If I am not able to wait to pay it in full next month, then I will pay half this month and pull it out of savings. Then next month, I will pay the rest of it, and refund savings how much I would have to take out this month. Either way, we will be able to pay all the medical bills without getting over our heads and in the red.

Well, not much else to report here. I am fully ready for my 3 day weekend. I hope to get the house cleaned, get some scrapbooking done, and get some quality time with the Hubs.

Anybody else completely messing up their no (low) spend for January? Or are we the only ones? We will continue the challenge for this month, but we may try and start all over again in February.

Thought I’d Share

Someone’s been sneaking around outside today. What do you think?


In case you were wondering, it was very cold to take this picture. Our temp is currently 20 degrees F, and it feels like 4 degrees. Last year that would have been nothing, but this year we have been super spoiled with very mild weather lately. I think today is the coldest it has been all winter.

I hope to be back later with a full update of the day. I just thought I’d share a cute picture.