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Weekly Update #26- Oops!

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Hey everyone, and Happy Tuesday!

To jump right into this post- last week I made an error. Not necessarily a bad error, but I feel like now, more than ever, I’m skating on thin ice. Every Wednesday (my pay day), I have my checking account withdrawn to pay off my student loans. I put make the payment request sometime before the payday (normally a week in advance) so that on payday, the money is gone and I don’t have it sitting in my bank account. Lucky for me- this month happens to be a 5 paycheck month and last Wednesday’s was the paycheck where I had nothing due, so I could put nearly the whole thing on my loans. I must have realized this earlier in the month because I somehow ended up making 2 payment requests of $705.00 to be withdrawn on the same day. I didn’t realize I did this until my account balances looked awfully low. I looked at my bank account, and sure enough, 2 payments were made. I say this isn’t necessarily a bad error because it isn’t like I went out an bought something unnecessary, but I had to move money from my EF to my checking to make up the difference. I’m down to $1000.00 in my EF, which has never been lower, hence why I feel I have a very shaky feeling about it. My plan right now is to finish paying off Sallie Mae 04 in 3 weeks and then build my EF back up before hitting the last two loans. If you look at the balances below, the $1,200 shouldn’t take too long to pay down.

On a separate note and a follow up from last week’s post, our anniversary weekend was amazing. Thanks to all those that shared your stories with me. Our trip to the ski resort was fantastic and it was a nice little day trip where we walked around their downtown (not the golf course, like I originally wanted) and got some appetizers at a local bar. When we got back home, GF made an amazing dinner and we exchanged little gifts. My gift for GF was, again, of the homemade variety. A couple of weeks ago, I was doing some research on homemade anniversary gifts and stumbled upon a Pinterest account that described homemade bath bombs/fizzies. Here’s the finished product below:

Bath Fizzies

It piqued my interest and I found a simple recipe on Martha Stewart Living (the recipes are easily google-able- I clicked on the first link). Since I don’t have any hobby/crafting supplies at home, I had to buy everything I needed to put together what I was envisioning in my head, including the acrylic paint and paintbrush for the front little “card” I made, the ribbon, tissue paper and dye for the fizzies. As for the fizzies, of the 4 ingredients needed (corn starch, baking soda, citric acid and essential oil for scent- I chose peppermint) I didn’t have any of them at home, and the citric acid ended up being a specialty item I had to buy on Amazon. The total came to around $60 for eveything. It would have cost a whole lot less if I did crafting and/or baking on a more frequent basis and had the items already on hand. To put the whole thing together took about 4 hours, 3 hours was for the prep and set time of the fizzies. Needless to say though, GF LOVED them. I don’t think I’ve ever been so proud of a gift I’ve given someone. It was truly a wonderful weekend.

As for my balances, here they are:

Loan NameInterest RateOriginal Balance- May '09Current BalanceTotal Paid OffPaid Since Last Week
Sallie Mae 015.25$27,837.24$23,662.64$4,174.60$0.00
Sallie Mae 024.75$22,197.02$18,556.32$3,640.70$0.00
Sallie Mae 037.75$20,692.10$0.00
$20,692.10$0.00
Sallie Mae 045.75$10,350.18$1,221.75$9,128.43$1,409.92
Sallie Mae 055.25$6,096.03$0.00$6,096.03$0.00
Sallie Mae 06 and 074.75$6,415.09$0.00$6,415.09$0.00
Sallie Mae- DOE 015.25$5,000.00$0.00$5,000.00$0.00
Sallie Mae- DOE 025.25$3,000.00$0.00$3,000.00$0.00
AES6.8$9,000.00$0.00$9,000.00$0.00
TOTALS$110,587.66$43,440.71$67,146.95$1,409.92

I hope everyone has a great week!


Staying Cool is a Breeze

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Every night I listen to the air conditioning click on and off all night.  I turn it down to 68 at night because I can’t sleep when I’m hot.  But every time I hear it click on lately I’ve been starting to panic about our electric bill because it’s been running ALOT!

On top of that, without a programmable thermostat, I will often forget during the day to turn it back up for just can’t stand the thought of being hot while I work!

So I’ve been anxiously awaiting the bill…it came in today.  $132!  I am so relieved.  This means I don’t have to “sweat” running the a/c as often as I have!

Another argument is my book for staying in our shaded, first floor cozy apartment this year I might add when talking about our Housing Options.


Month in Review- June 2015

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Hey Everyone! I hope you’re all having a great week.

It’s July 2nd, so that means it’s time for a month in review. June went by in a flash, didn’t it? The summer months always seem to fly by so fast.

Since I didn’t post on Tuesday, I want to share a couple of items that happened over the weekend:

  • The same couple that I went out with earlier in June, invited me and GF out again; this time for dinner AND a movie (BTW- Jurassic World is AMAZING). I happily said “Yes!” but it also broke my “fun” budget for the month, which I carried $50. It wasn’t a big deal since my buddy asked me earlier in the week and I was able to budget for the dinner and movie out of my paycheck vs. having to dip into my emergency fund. I’m just really excited that I don’t have to say “No” to everything anymore.
  • I didn’t have a debt update to share since my last paycheck of the month is delegated to paying my mortgage and some other smaller bills. If I didn’t have any plans during this week, I could normally set aside $70-80 for a debt payment. Since I went out to dinner instead, I made no debt payment this week.

As for June, there was a lot that happened, so to review:

  • Firstly, now that most of my smaller debts are paid off (with only one more to go below $10,000) I had an internal struggle (The Hard Wins) on how to deal with the the fact that the payoffs are going to be few and far between now.
  • The day after my “Hard Wins” post, I increased my 401k contribution from 4% to 10% (which I mentioned in the comments of that same post). Update: I think this was a wise decision. For one- I haven’t noticed much of a difference in my take home pay. It ended up being about a $60 difference, but it’s definitely not hurting my ability to pay my bills. Plus, it’s awesome to see my retirement account grow so much faster!
  • In the following post (Time Off), I decided to use the month of July as a vacation from paying off debt to both enjoy my vacation to Disney and clear my head so I can hit August refreshed and ready to go. Update: vacation is only 7 days away (yay!) and this Wednesday’s paycheck marks the first paycheck in a LONG time (if ever) where I didn’t have to make a debt payment. I’m using all the extra  money to buy myself some new clothes and to stock up on supplies (more on this on Tuesday)
  • I went out for dinner and drinks with a with an awesome couple, in which my “fun” fund came in really handy (here) and was most definitely worth it.
  • In this post (Birthday Party), I went to a good friend’s son’s 1st birthday party. Since I started an ESA account, I figured I give the gift of some cash for my buddy to start one of his own for his son.
  • In the same post, we began our planning for Disney. Since we are driving down, a lot of you had some great ideas our how to make our trip as fun and as frugal as we can. We’ve incorporated many of the ideas into our plan as we want to spend as little money as we have to on our drive down and then back up.
  • Lastly, we had a little Father’s Day celebration (Father’s Day) where GF did some amazing little things for me, as I am the father to our kids (lol, they’re dogs). We also started cementing our Disney plans and GF used her couponing skills to get us a whole bunch of goodies on the cheap.

As for my debt paydown, no big milestones met this month, but I still paid off $1,592.21. Down to a balance of $48,466.83. Not my best month, but not my worst, either.

Hope everyone has a great holiday!


Wear, wash, repeat

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I feel like my days are on a serious repeat cycle and this post could pretty much be a duplicate of last weeks, with one MAJOR difference. I am anticipating a check today that will be the last payment towards my consumer debt…July 1st deadline goal met (almost as it hasn’t gotten here yet.) I feel like I should be doing some sort of happy dance or woot, wooting, but really I am just ready to keep plugging along.

I am really enjoying having choices with my money, rather than just looking at what bill is due next. And I really like the idea of not having to fork over a large portion of my money to debt anymore, but I do still have a ways to go. I have picked my next debt goal and am looking at the timeline now so will post that soon.

Now the news from this week…

The housing question is still looming. I have until the 24th of this month to let my apartments know if I am moving out at the end of my lease to avoid any addition fees. I also have the option to go month to month at that time or sign a shorter lease or another year long lease. I know I will not be signing another year long lease, but everything else is still up in the air. So more on that later too.

I’m continuing to do daily chauffeur duties to swim team practice, day camps (this week the littles are at a free VBS,) and gymnastics practice. I feel like I never have a solid block of time at home or if I do it’s at night when I’m exhausted, so not being as productive as I hoped. That is something that I need to change as I continue to try and build my business!

I’ve two extra kids staying with us this week, 8 year old twins. They are from a single mom family and she is really struggling financially so hasn’t been able to afford to run her air conditioner or hire a sitter for them. I just couldn’t stomach the idea of them staying alone day in and day out in a hot house, so voila they are here. They live about 3 hours from us, so she will come on the weekend and we will evaluate the situation for next week. (One of my twins is gone for the week at Ministry and Leadership Training, so it hasn’t been quite as tight as it would have been. Plus, these twins get along like gang busters with Little Gymnast so they are having a blast together.)

Speaking of Little Gymnast, today is his birthday. Now that’s something I can get excited about. When he found out he would not be getting his iPad screen fixed for his birthday, he gave me a revised frugal list…he’s getting everything he asked for: 1 gallon of grape juice, silly string, Reeses Pieces and a new blanket. (His Thomas the Train comforter is on it’s last stuffing!) We will go out to dinner tonight with his dad to celebrate…he’s chosen Golden Corral for the unlimited food and chocolate fountain!

So I’ve got lots of news, but nothing definite. Expect detailed posts coming on:
1. The next payoff goal and timeline.
2. A new, maybe not so extreme budget…maybe. We’ve gotten used to this one and it really hasn’t been that bad.
3. Details on our new family car.
4. A decision on housing as soon as I make one, lots still going on around this so can’t even hint to what the outcome will be.

I hope you are well and enjoying your summer and staying cool. The heat has been stifling and these last few days have been our first break from 90+ degree weather, so I’m dreading seeing what my electric bill will be. But I am oh, so grateful to be a in place where I can run it without worrying about being able to pay the bill. And run it to my comfort. I know that many people can’t do that. We have much to be grateful for, even on our strict budget.


Weekly Debt Update #16- Memorial Day Fun

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Happy Thursday everyone!

I hope everybody is having a great (and short) week thus far!

As I originally intended to post this on Tuesday, I want to talk about what we did for Memorial Day. Over the weekend, we decided to have my parents down for a couple days to celebrate. Originally, when I talked to my parents about coming down back in April, they were going to stay for one day (Saturday) and night. We ended up having such a good time that it turned into 2 days (Saturday and Sunday) and 2 nights.

To prepare for our plans, which was to have a picnic, I ended up using a good portion of my monthly “fun” money ($50) to help out. I used this money to purchase the food we “needed” for some picnics. GF also pitched in by paying for 1/2 the picnic supplies plus beer. My folks got down to Erie on Saturday where we just hung out, talked and ate stuff we had around our house. We love having fires, so we spent a good part of the evening and most of the night just drinking beer and relaxing by the fire while our dogs played in the back yard.

Sunday was picnic day. Since Erie has such nice beaches, we were going to have our picnic down on the beach and hang out by the water and soak up some sun. Plans changed pretty quickly that morning. Erie has a very quaint little amusement park down by the water called Waldemeer. My mother thought it would be a great idea to have our picnic there and treat everyone to rides as a thank you for letting them spend the weekend with us. The park ride tickets aren’t expensive ($20-ish for all you can ride) and there’s never a wait to get on, which makes it a perfect place to spent a few hours. Here’s my and GF in the park:

IMG_3730

Half way through our stay, I grilled out hog dogs, had some pasta salad and fruit that I got at the store the day before. It was an excellent way to spend time with my family. Later that evening, we had dinner and returned to the park to watch their Memorial Day fireworks (which everyone in Erie goes to watch).

On the actual holiday, the GF and I planted our garden/did some yard work while her mom visited and we had…another cookout! We finally used up the food we bought at the beginning of the weekend. All in all, I ended up only spending $30 for the picnic stuff plus gas to host our families. Last summer was our first experiment with gardening, and we seemed to overload the small plot with too many plants. This year, we’ve stuck to just our favorites: tomatoes, hot peppers, and cucumbers. Here’s a picture of the finished product:

IMG_3742.JPG

Not only do we love our vegetables, but it’s also a financial save since we tend to go through a lot.

For anyone interested in my debt numbers since last week, here they are:

Loan NameInterest RateOriginal Balance- May '09Current BalanceTotal Paid OffPaid Since Last Week
Sallie Mae 015.25$27,837.24$23,896.61$3,940.63$88.62
Sallie Mae 024.75$22,197.02$18,750.50$3,449.52$69.94
Sallie Mae 037.75$20,692.10$0.00
$20,692.10$0.00
Sallie Mae 045.75$10,350.18$7,339.83$3,010.35$67.81
Sallie Mae 055.25$6,096.03$0.00$4,840.64$0.00
Sallie Mae 06 and 074.75$6,415.09$0.00$6,415.09$0.00
Sallie Mae- DOE 015.25$5,000.00$0.00$5,000.00$0.00
Sallie Mae- DOE 025.25$3,000.00$0.00$3,000.00$0.00
AES6.8$9,000.00$0.00$9,000.00$0.00
TOTALS$110,587.66$49,986.94$60,600.72$226.37

Like I posted last week- I reached the under $50,000 milestone! Something, I didn’t think I would ever reach!!

Have a great weekend!


Birthday on a Budget

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Shhh, this is a secret post.  You’ll remember a month or so back I mentioned that I was going to find a way to throw together a birthday party for the littles since they so graciously gave it up last year.  Well, we started exploring and talking about it…and I started pricing things.  The bowling alley ($15-17 per child,) the trampoline park ($250+,) and so on and so forth.  And frankly, in my frugal state of mind, I was just flabbergasted.  So I’ve come up with a fabulous, frugal plan and the kids no nothing about it.

Prepare for a Surprise Pool Party!!!  And it’s next week.  I went to our apartment management and asked how much it would be to rent the clubhouse and pool for a party.  My thoughts were since school was still in session we might could get a pretty good deal doing it during the week.  Well, they wouldn’t rent them to me.  The clubhouse is never available for rent, but as long as I kept the guess list to less than a dozen…I could use the pool for FREE!!!!

So next Thursday, we are having a SURPRISE pool birthday party for the littles.  I have invited all their homeschool friends via text message (free,) ordered a birthday cookie cake (discounted because one of the twins works there,) will order pizzas for lunch (discounted because of the twins work there,) and will have a cooler full of drinks.

And the icing on the cake is that our best family friends, who also homeschool, are going to come in town the day before and spend a long weekend with us so they can celebrate with us!  (The littles know they are coming, but not about the party.)

I am so excited about this surprise for the kids, so now I’m just praying the weather cooperates!  (I will post the numbers after it’s all said and done, but am anticipating less than $100 for the whole thing and that includes feeds 5 other families lunch and cake – woot, woot!)  Another plus side to living in our wonderful apartment complex!


An Update on our School Plan

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My homeschooling seems to rub lots of people the wrong way, especially those that have no personal experience with it.  And earlier this year, I wrote about how the cost of our co op really had me re-thinking my plans.  So I wanted to give everyone an update from both a schooling and financial update on this topic.

First, as I have kind of mentioned around, I am happy to announce that I will be teaching two classes at our local homeschool co op.  And currently the classes are almost half full – yeah!  They are both high school classes for high school credit and each student pays $140 per semester.  I have high hopes that the classes will fill.

Second, my children have each selected and registered for their courses through the co op for next year (with a few nudges from me.)  And after reviewing what they have chosen and what everyone “needs” to stay on course, I will only be teaching math and Spanish here at home.  Everything else will be taken at the co op.  This is a good compromise allowing me to take on the additional “work” hours of teaching a few hours a week.

In reviewing these two, the monies I make from teaching at co op will just cover the costs of their co op classes – woot, woot!!!

Third, schedule wise this is going to work out fantastic!  I have already consulted with my largest client for whom I have dedicated work hours, and the two hours a week I will be teaching are outside of my work hours for them…so no conflicts.  AND even better, since the kids are taking so much more at the co op, that will free me up approximately 10 hours a week to work on other stuff.

For those of you that are uncomfortable with the thought of homeschooling, think of this like college.  They will go to class two days a week and then have the remaining days to complete homework.  It is very much like that, and the test results (we test at a local private school so there is no manipulation on my part) continue to show that they are all on or above grade level in almost every subject.

Fourth, I haven’t set up a teaching schedule for my online classes for the fall yet, but they are willing to work around whatever my availability is…awesome!  And I will be teaching some of the same classes at both places so only one set of lesson plans, etc. for me to design.

So essentially school costs will be minimal this coming year…I will still have to buy books and supplies.  But essentially I am knocking $5,000 off my yearly budget by teaching for 2 hours a week for 6 months.  I am okay with that, and even the better, the kids are super excited that they are getting to take more classes.  And if I had my druthers…math and Spanish are the two classes I enjoy teaching to them so I anticipate lots of good times!