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Posts tagged with: Spending Money

The water heater died… and took my emergency fund with it.

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Despite heroic efforts, my husband was unable to save our water heater. While re-routing the pipes, he found a crack in the tank caused by improper initial installation – or something like that. There were a lot of other words mixed in about ‘crappy two-bit plumbers’ so I gleaned what I could. He was surprised it lasted as long as it did with the extent of the damage.

I had long since gone to bed – he stopped appreciating my ‘help’ on plumbing projects years ago – when he crawled in sometime after 1am. He rubbed my arm, told me the water heater wasn’t fixable, and fell asleep.

Telling me I have to dive into my already nearly depleted emergency fund (more on that later) at bedtime is the equivalent to telling a 7 year old there are monsters under the bed – but worse.

I didn’t sleep a wink.

This week should be interesting… Will this be the first time we have more month than money?


When You are Desperate for Cash…

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As soon as my husband and I received our paychecks a week ago, I wrote a check for $1,000 to Toyota. If I don’t pay this chunk immediately, I miraculously find ways to spend it on anything other than debt reduction.

The VERY NEXT DAY, the electrical went out in our garage. My husband said he was more than willing to prolong repairing it but couldn’t because he thought it was ‘potentially life threatening’ blah, blah, blah.

I offered to avoid the garage area, the open electrical box, and the live wires near the light switch but for some reason, he didn’t trust me to remember not to touch the switch while hungrily running to the garage freezer for a pint of Ben and Jerry’s – plus, there was some mention of a ‘potential fire hazard’.

The cost of the repairs? $150.

The amount of cash in our account? $162.

The amount of food in our fridge? None.

Our grocery budget funded the repairs.

It’s times like these, we are supposed to dive into our emergency fund. Electrical/housing/safety problem definitely qualifies as an EMERGENCY but for some reason, I can’t touch that cash without feeling uneasy.

Instead, I looked around my house for something to sell.

My eyes fell on a lamp, still in the box with a receipt taped to the top, which I purchased 2 weeks ago. The lamp in our living room broke and all we have is a fixture with a bare bulb. I bought a $40 floor lamp from Target to replace it but felt uneasy about spending money so I left it in the box while I debated it.

While I stood in the returns line to get back some cold hard cash for groceries, my sister called. When she asked what I was doing, I told her I was returning a lamp for grocery money.

You know you’ve reached a certain consistent level of crazy when your sister doesn’t hiccup over the above statement and simply says, “Cool. Anyway, are you coming to mom and dad’s today?”


Reining in Mr. Fix-It

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In the process of spending half our grocery budget on a ‘loaf of bread’, my husband purchased a plastic dog food storage container. In all fairness, the recent storms and moisture have molded the dog food and we’ve had to throw some away. Not realizing the container was too small, my husband dumped the entire bag of dog food into it – a large portion of which landed on the floor. Frustrated, he went back to Target to return the container and purchase a larger size. They didn’t have a larger airtight one so he brought home a cheap plastic bin with a lid. Putting his hand to his chin, he stared at it and said, ‘It’s not air tight. I refuse to lose anymore dog food to bugs or water!’

Today at work, I received an e-mail from my husband with a ‘solution’ to our problem.

From: Chris
To: Rebekah
Subject: Dog Food Storage
What do you think of something like this for dog food storage?

Dog Food Storage

Um. I don’t think food containers are even that complicated at the San Diego Zoo. A ‘blast gate’ on the bottom? Was he planning to build a dog food container or a launch pad for NASA?

I showed my co-worker the sketch from my overachieving Mr. Fix it and she laughed… then offered to give me a dog food bin from her dog who passed away 6 months ago. She wasn’t planning on getting a new dog and was throwing the bin away.

In the end, my husband came through, just not in the way we expected. We were able to return cheap bin. Woo Hoo for returns! More grocery money!


Normal by the Numbers?

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I’ve been asked to reveal my actual monthly budget numbers. I was reluctant at first and then realized it may be a learning experience and I should see if I am normal in my expectations of my money.

No, I am not going to reveal my housing costs. Asking a San Diegan to reveal her mortgage payment is like asking a New York housewife to reveal her age. The only thing likely to happen is a giant string of lies.

I’m also not going to reveal our charitable giving amounts. What we decide to give is a very personal decision and it’s not an amount I’m willing to change just to pay more on bills.

Savings: $50
Electricity/Gas: $105
Cell Phones: $100
Cable/Internet/Phone: $100
Grocery: $300
Gas: $260
Laundry: $10
Toiletries: $11
Clothing/House Repairs/Animal Care/Spending Money: $200
Water: $70
Trash: $18

All remaining money is used to pay our mortgage, our credit card, our student loans, and my husband’s truck.

So. Am I normal by the numbers? What does your budget look like?


Big Spending Problems…

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I was reading an article in the Sunday paper that talked about spending habits and how to save money. The article stated that most money is wasted on big ticket items and NOT the $4 Starbucks you buy every morning before work.

Um.

I hate to disagree with a professional financial advisor but…

He’s dead wrong (and is obviously invested in Starbucks).

At least when it comes to me anyway.

I don’t buy big items. I bought my dining room set for $75 off Craigslist five years ago. My couches are ten years old. My bed is a hand me down from my sister. How do I spend my money?

According to my online banking… I spend it in tidy $20 increments over… and over… and over again. My money doesn’t flood out, it trickles. The article recommended taking 24 hours to consider every purchase over $100. Good advice, but the last purchase I made over $100 was months ago. It’s not the $100 purchases that are killing me!

I feel like the article should have simply said, ‘Watch where the bulk of your money is going and try to find ways to save from there.’

My goal this month is to watch my ‘trickle’ problem. I’ve gotten to the point that I have to seriously consider every item I purchase AND if I wait long enough, will it go on sale? will the newspaper run a coupon?… or will I forget I even wanted it in the first place?

Is your problem a trickle? Or a flood?


Do We Really Need All of Those Gadgets?

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On my post about the slicer/dicer yesterday, MeganM left a comment:

I think 99% of gadget-type purchases can be eliminated. No one needs a slicer when a plain old knife will do just fine for sandwich meat.

I think MeganM is absolutely right. I’m mentally going through my kitchen right now and we have a cute little frog cheese slicer. I remember buying that on clearance because I thought it was cute. Too bad it’s so small that it isn’t big enough to slice most blocks of cheese. Then there’s the chicken egg slicer. It was cute, and I thought we needed an egg slicer. I use it a few times a year, but a fork worked well in the past. We didn’t really need it.

Let’s not even start talking about gadget appliances. We have a waffle maker. I think we’ve used it twice in the three years we’ve had it. Oh, and the sandwich maker? We barely use that thing as well. I could go on for a while with the other things we have purchased throughout our life that could be considered gadgets.

We didn’t really need them. We barely use them!

It’s funny…at the time, we thought these gadgets would be great things to have. We’ll use them all the time! You can do so much with them! They’ll make life so much easier! Not really. They just ended up costing us money that we really didn’t need to spend.

At our last garage sale, I tried to get rid of a few of the gadgets we had and they didn’t sell even though the price was dirt cheap. I guess that should say something LOL 😛

What about you? Have any gadgets that are collecting dust?


How Being in a Funk Can Affect Our Budget

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Funks like the one I am in right now are nothing new to me. For clarification, to me, a funk is sort of like being depressed, but not as severe. Being really depressed is also something that is not new to me. Thankfully, I have those episodes a lot less often than I used to.

Funks, although they are less severe, aren’t fun either. They also have a sneaky way of affecting your mood AND your budget.

For me, funks bring about the sweet food like ice cream and candy. The thing about splurging on those? You can’t do it if you do not go near a store. While it can be downright stuffy to stay home during a funk, I know what damage I can do at the store (although…my son loves my funks because I bring all types of goodies into the house!). I did let myself go to the store during this funk and I know I shouldn’t have.

Related to food, I’m also about four times more likely to get fast food than cooking at home when I am in a funk. I normally like cooking a healthy meal for my family. I go all out and even make salads for everyone. That’s one reason I love the weekends. I can cook dinner (normally during the week, I get off work too late to prepare dinner before 7pm). With this latest funk, the $5 subs at Subway called my name and I gave in.

I also get strong urges to go shopping for stuff. Maybe a new pair of shoes or something. The oddest thing about this urge is that I am not normally into fashion. But the minute I go into a funk I must think I need to be a fashionista (not that anything is wrong with that – it’s just totally against the norm for me). Sometimes I budget shop and buy clearance items, but sometimes I don’t. Again, it’s best to stick around the house and not go anywhere. I didn’t do this one (thank goodness – I have enough shoes!).

If you don’t go anywhere, you can’t spend money!

I know that I’m not necessarily dealing with the problem directly, but for now, it’s the best thing I can do to keep our budget intact during a funk. Sometimes I feel like my brain needs to be rewired and I’ve come to accept that it can take some time to turn around years of bad spending habits.


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