Posts tagged with: saving

Money in the Bank

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I feel like I’ve hit a milestone today that I hadn’t really thought of…money in the bank.

I’m not talking about the 10% I’ve been setting aside in a hard to reach savings account. I’m talking about there being several hundred dollars in my primary daily living account that is not earmarked for some upcoming bill or that I’m watching like a hawk to make sure I can cover something that is coming up.  And the cool thing is, I get paid today too.

As this realization hit this morning, I was able to take a really deep breathe. And smile.

I’ve started working on a budget — really! And am also starting to think about giving back. I’ve had the opportunity of late to give back in small ways, but after what we have been through the last two years and all the blessings we received from others I really want to give back in some real tangible ways, not just sending a check to some big charity.  Something like paying someone’s electric bill as someone did from the BAD community did for us a few months. Or taking some kids back to school shopping. You get my drift. I know I have to put this in my budget AND I still have some debt to dig into.

A financial post will be forthcoming, but I just wanted to let you know that today, I smiled when I thought of my finances rather than trembling with fear or stressing about every day obligations.


The Twins

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History Buff (L) and Sea Cadet (R)

History Buff (L) and Sea Cadet (R)

On my last post, several people asked about the twins and their plans.  Since we have been discussing that ad nauseum around here, it’s an easy post to write. The twins just completed their junior year of high school.  (For those that haven’t followed our story, just a little background.  The twins were placed with me when they were 12 years old as foster kids.  When it was determined that they couldn’t go home, I adopted them at the age of 15th.  They will be 18 this fall.  Sea Cadet is older by 20 minutes and he chose to be homeschooled beginning his freshman year of high school.  History Buff was pulled from public schools at the end of the first semester of his freshman year after not making the grades (he and I had an agreement based on grade expectations.)  History Buff’s first day at our homeschool co op – “my best school day ever!”)

History Buff is on track to graduate next year, and is college bound but he is very unsure of what he wants to do or study or even where he wants to go.  So for his senior year of high school, he will be dual enrolled at a local community college.  This will allow him to finish his high school credits and get some college credits simultaneously.  He has applied and must complete the English and Math Virginia Placement Test before he can enroll in classes.  Other than that, all school decisions are up in the air.  He would really like to move to Austin, TX where most of my family lives for college, but I have put my foot down on out of state tuition costs, so we are considering a gap year for him to move there, get acclimated, a job, etc. and then enroll at a local college.  But truly, all up in the air.  We will visit some VA schools this summer, and possibly do a second year at the community college.

This summer he is working two jobs.  He continues to work at the local movie theater, mostly because he loves the benefits

Sea Cadet, History Buff and Princess

Sea Cadet, History Buff and Princess

it gives his social life with free movies and discounted snacks.  He also works at a sub shop which was a job he was given by a family friend and he loves it.  He’s enjoying some free time from school, dating and hanging with his friends while he swims an hour a day for swim team and is working out three times a week with a personal trainer.

We’ve just modified his money plan.  Since the twins began working, they have been required to save 50% of each paycheck for college, 25% is used for bills (car insurance, gas, cell phone and clothes/hygiene) and 25% spending money.  He has done great, and learned some hard lessons.  I am so proud of him.  In the last month, we changed his plan to this: 25% college savings, 25% personal savings, 50% bills and spending.  We did this to give him a bit more control over his “free” money and let him save some money for car repairs or a newer car whichever comes first as we have had a few scares with his car.

Sea Cadet will graduate in two years.  We knew going into high school that he had some challenges with education and at the end of the first semester decided to slow down a bit to give him a chance for a much more successful high school career.  In homeschool, it’s called a super senior year.  (Before this becomes a discussion, he has what is called an ISP through the public schools which is evaluated every year, even though we homeschool.  And when he was in public school he had services in the classroom.  Slowing down was just what he has needed and he has been very successful.  When the twins were placed with me in 7th grade, Sea Cadet tested at a 3rd/4th grade level, again a public school administered test.)  He will receive a general diploma when he graduates and will have met all VA state requirements to do so.

Back to Sea Cadet’s plans, he has two more years of high school to complete.  He will also be dual enrolling this fall, but since he has a very strong interest in the medical field, he will be going into a two year EMS program at the local

Sea Cadet at lakehouse

Sea Cadet at lakehouse

community college.  He has already passed the English portion of the VPT, and will take the math portion this week.  We are doing this for two reasons: 1) it will give him a chance to try out college with home support and 2) if he completes the program and can pass the certifications he will have a career option available immediately just in case he decides college is not for him.  His dream is to be a flight nurse in the military, so we think this is a good way to see if that is a good career path for him.

He is also working two jobs this summer.  He continues to work at the movie theater with his twin brother, but he will also be away for 5 weeks this summer, working as a junior camp counselor at the Christian summer camp they have attended the last 4 summers.   He has completed his drivers ed course, but does not seem to be in a rush to get his drivers license especially when he considers the cost of insurance.  Sea Cadet continues to save 50% of every check for college and has done great with that as well.

I could not be more proud of the twins.  They are great young men, responsible, polite and really working hard to make good life choices.  I am so proud to call each of them my son.

Twins and friends at homeschool graduation event

Twins and friends at homeschool graduation event

 

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April Savings Update – Hope

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My number one goal is to have a healthy savings account, not just for emergencies, but also in anticipation of moving again and needing to be ready for that. So this will be my monthly summary of my savings account:

MonthAmountBalance
April, 2016$100 - 4/18
$143 - 4/28
$243
May, 2016
June, 2016

This account is held at my primary bank, but I can only transfer money into it online, for any withdrawals, I have to visit the bank.  This works for me because it makes it harder for me to get to, well, hard enough that I don’t access it readily and without much thought.

 


Ashley’s September 2015 Budget Update

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Things were pretty ho-hum in terms of spending and budgeting in the month of September. No spending was crazy or out-of-line with what would be expected. Here’s our budget from September:

 

Place Amount Spent
Rent 1200
Electricity 251
Water 60
Natural gas 34
Cell Phones (2 lines) 82
Cable/Internet 97
Car Insurance 117
Trash 35
Preschool 916
Gift-Giving 30
Personal Maintenance 14
Restaurants 105
Groceries 601
Gasoline 74
Household Goods 50
Clothing 81
Toddler purchases 0
Postage 14
Rainy Day Savings 225
Savings Goals 500
Debt Payments 2564
Total Budgeted $7050

 

Last month I’d reported issues with both my cable and cell phone bills. I was happy to report when both of those issues are resolved.

The $50 household goods charge was for all those Bath and Body Works candles I bought (remember?) And the clothing purchases still never did include those black pants I was after (in fact, I didn’t go shopping again for the rest of the month after that incident). But the first weekend of October I managed to score a really cute pair for 50% off at Banana. That place is becoming my gold mine! (side note: how is a plain pair of black pants “super cute,” you may ask? Aren’t’ they all rather plain? And the answer is no. The ones I got are adorbs. They’re ankle-pants, like the new kind that are in style now. I know that’s not necessarily great long-term since they’re likely to go in and out of style, but I lurve them! They’re super flattering, go with a ton of stuff, and I will get lots of wear out of them!)

Our rainy day savings was a little slim this month:  $200 toward our dental fund (in anticipation of hubs’ upcoming dental work needs) and $25 toward the girls’ college savings. Nothing else. I’ve really gotten a little too close to the line on our savings. I’ve been a little skimpy in favor of making larger debt payments. But this needs to stop.

We’ve got to beef back up our:

  • 3-6 month EF (which we depleted down to about $1,000 back in August and have never replenished)
  • car repair fund (which we always end up depleting everytime it gets to about the $1,000 mark. Right now we only have $75 in it!)
  • annual fees fund (which is just silly to neglect because these are known and expected expenses)

So those will be priorities in the coming months.

The $500 toward our savings goals represents the $500 funneled toward Cruise 2016 (only 6 more months until the sale date! We booked 12 months in advance so it feels like it’s really coming up even though its still half a year away!)

That’s it for this month!

How was your spending in September? Are you anticipating any big holiday spending in October? I’ve really been trying to keep my eyes peeled for possible Christmas gifts. I’d rather spread out the shopping a little instead of having it all concentrated in December!