Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Budgeting: We are Not Trying Hard Enough

So I feel the hubby and I do pretty well with budgeting our money.  We always are able to pay our bills and we usually have some money left over towards paying down our debt.  Every bill paid gets typed into a spread sheet so we can track our expenses and make sure all the bills get paid...I am very forgetful so this strategy helps out a lot.

I was going through some of our monthly bills and comparing it to the amount of money we made for each month.  And, according to my calculations there should have been more left over money than there actually was!!  So obviously our budgeting method is not going according to plan.  I read this article from TeachHer Finance, about tough love.  And, I realized I need to give myself a little tough love.  The hubby and I are not trying hard enough!!!

I noticed we spent a lot of money on eating out, going out, and fast food.  Although fast food is more my husbands area than mine...mainly because he is on the road a lot and going to McDonalds is a lot easier and quicker.  The interesting thing is, is we always talk about how we never do anything and how we are making all these sacrifices to get our debt paid off.  EVEN OUR FRIENDS think we stay in too much and don't get out enough. 

The problem is, is when we do go out we tend to spend a ridiculous amount of money!  So even if we do make it out on the town one night a month, it's usually a car payment down the drain.  Now I think it's important to have a life and not just sit around paying your bills.  But we obviously need to be more creative and find cheaper ways to have fun.  We need to try harder at finding ways to cut back on spending in areas that are not a vital part of living.

So I'm getting an action plan together.  A better budget the two of us can stick to.  After careful examination I think the problem was we were making sure we had enough money to cover the bills but we didn't designate a certain amount to be put towards paying down our debt.

After careful consideration, I figured we need to put aside AT LEAST $200 a month towards our debt.

Now, it gets a little tricky when it comes to the hubby.  Unlike me, his income varies.  Because he is in school, he doesn't always work as much from one week to the next.  He also has money coming in from an internship he is doing, which is commission based.  So it's hard to factor in what he can contribute each month.

So for now, I'm assuming I pay for everything and then anything left over from his income will be put towards the debt.

So, in reality, we will be paying a lot more towards downsizing our debt.  But I know I can comfortably put aside at least $200 a month...or $100 a paycheck.

Now the tricky part will be sticking to this plan.  I discussed how my savings account automatically takes out $25 from my paycheck every other week.  I think I should put into place the same type of concept as soon as I get paid.  That way the money is already gone and I don't have to think about it. 

Of course other sacrifices will be made.  But as long as the hubby and I both try hard and stick to our financial goals, I think we will be debt free in the not too far future...hopefully by the end of the year.

So tell me.  How do you stick with your financial goals?  What sacrifices do you make in order to stick to your plan?  Are you really trying hard enough when it comes to your finances?

Sunday, March 11, 2012

This Weeks Article Round-Up

Here are the articles I read this week that I found very interesting:

My Walk Away Number

This arcticle discusses different women, at different ages, and different jobs, and what their walk away number would be.  Meaning, how much money it would take for them to quit their jobs and do as they wish.  It was interesting how different the numbers were.  Some women were fine having just enough to get the bills paid.  Others wanted more for personal reasons.

This article got me thinking about my own walk away number.  I think I would be fine with $75,000.  This way I could quit my job and still have some money to have fun with once the bills were paid.  I mean the whole point of quitting your day job is to do what you wish.  And all the things I wish to do cost money.

I also realized this would put me into a good position to really focus on my blog and hopefully build some revenue.  I mean a walk away number is good to have, but eventually you would run out of money, and then what?  I would want to make sure my time was spent generating income in different areas.  And, since I am enjoying this blog of mine so much, I would definitely want to put more energy into making it profitable for me.

How to Start Saving More Money Today

I just thought some of the ideas in this article were really good.  And, for the most part, pretty much common sense.  I guess, for me, it was one of those things I needed to be told before I could have my 'duh' moment.

The first two ideas were probaly my favorite: Have multiple streams of income and use cash.

I am definitely working on building the multiple streams of income.  I have plenty of good ideas of how to make this happen but, first things first.  I really want to eliminate my debt before I start to invest in other areas for income.  It usually takes money to make money and I really want to be in a position where investing in something won't ruin me.  Hopefully in a year or two I will have a better grip on this.

Now using cash is a great idea to save money.  And yes, I have heard of this before.  But do I do it?  Hardly.  By using cash you become more aware of what you are spending and how much money you have.  I've said it a million times before, but I really think I need to put this idea into action.  See how much money I can save.

28 Acts of Kindness

Now this article wasn't really money related but I really like the idea.  Makes me want to do something similar.  It's always nice doing for others and I really need to make it a point to show acts of kindness more often.  I can get so caught up in my day to day routine, that reaching out to others can slip my mind.  But I think if I make a plan, like this mom did, I can really help others and experience some emotional benefits as well.

21 Suggestions for Success

I came across this link on pinterest.  Its 21 suggestions for success.  As I was reading these 21 suggestions I thought to myself, this could be used in all aspects of life, including my own personal finances.  So take a quick look at the website and reflect on how each suggestion can be used in your own financial path or any other aspect of your life.

Suggestion number nine, in my opinion, applies most to this blog so I decided to discuss it further:

Discipline yourself to save money on even the most modest salary.

Now I know this can be very hard to do, especially when you are living paycheck to paycheck.  But saving money is such a crucial part of becoming financially secure.  If you don't make the sacrifice to save, even just a little bit, every month, then you will never reach the point where you can feel financially secure.

Having money in a savings account means you are prepared for the unexpected.  If your car unexpectedly breaks down you have the money to fix it.  If you get laid off from your job, a very common problem, then, if you have prepared and saved money, you can rest easy knowing the bills will get paid until you find another job.  Saving money can save you from a lot of stress later down the road.

Now I will admit, if I lost my job tomorrow, I would be in trouble.  I have some savings, but not nearly enough to cover the bills.  My savings account is at $1100.  This is enough money to prepare for minor unexpected circumstances, like the car breaking down, ect.  But by no means am I prepared for being unemployed!

I put away $50 a month into my savings.  $25 is directly deposited into the savings account every other friday, on pay day.  This way I don't even think about it.  The money is put into the savings account without me even noticing it.  So, every other Friday, when I look to see my paycheck, the money isn't even factored into the budget because it's already taken out and put into the savings.

Once our debt is paid off, I plan to start saving more.  My goal is to eventually have enough money saved to cover our expenses for 6 months.  That way if something happens, and one of us loses our job, then we will still be able to pay our bills until a new job is found.

So what do you think?  Did you find these suggestions helpful?  Which one speaks most to you and your financial future?

Friday, March 9, 2012

5 Money Problems in Relationships

It is pretty common knowledge that most marriages end due to money problems.  In my last post I discussed how awesome my husband is and how lucky I feel that we are both on the same page when it comes to finances.  After that post it got me thinking about various money problems in relationships that occur so frequently.

To me it is pretty much common sense to think that a couple should be open and honest about their finances.  It is hard for me to think of how these money problems can, not only exist, but be so common among couples.  During my contemplations, I was also trying to think of the most common issues couples face when dealing with their money.

So this is what I could come up with based on my own personal experiences:

1.  Sharing Finances for the First Time

This is definitely something that takes getting used.  Once my husband and I moved in together we both had to change our mindsets in regards to our money and how we spent it.  The biggest obstacle we had to overcome was realizing that every dollar I spent affected him and, every dollar he spent affected me.  We had to come together and decide how the bills would be shared and develope an overall game plan for where our money was going.

Now, when we first moved in together it wasn't too hard to decide who paid for what.  We were both working full time and made about the same salary.  However, my husband decided, about 6 months later, he wanted to go back to school.  Well, this changed everything.  I became the primary money maker!  And, a lot of the responsibility fell on me to pay all the bills and put food on the table.

I didn't mind providing for my husband and I because I knew he was trying to better himself in order to make our future better.  However, if he and I didn't have a game plan and discuss our finances it might have been a much harder adjustment for me.  Once we moved in together, he and I had this motto:  "My money is your money."  We often quoted this phrase whenever one of us would refer to money as "my money."  The other one would quickly correct the phrase to "our money."  This provided us with the idea that we were sharing money.  The money that came into our household did not solely belong to one of us, but rather, it belonged to both of us.  Slowly but surely the motto "My money is your money" became engrained into us and, to this day, we rarely refer to money as "my money.''  Money is always referred to as "our money."

2.  Frugalless Spending

This problem was much more difficult for my husband to overcome than for me.  I am definitely the saver in the relationship and he is definitely the spender.  But, I do think my saving attitude has rubbed off on him!  My husband would have no problem eating out to lunch everyday, buying  a few songs on itunes every week, and just carelessly spend our money without any thought to it.

We would often get into little spats about his daily lunches and careless spending.  Of course he didn't think the few dollars he spent at Burger King, or the couple of bucks it cost to buy a song was a big deal.  What he didn't realize was these little amounts, on a daily basis, add up to a big bill by the end of the month.

I really had to sit him down to make him realize how this was affecting our finances.  I added up all of his frugalless spending and showed him just how much he was spending in a month.  It was about $700 give or take!

It is so easy to just mindlessly spend a few dollars here or there without thinking of how much this adds up to in the long run.  My advice is to check your bank account every month and add up all of the little expenses you could have gone without.  You and your partner should do this together and see how much you are carelessly spending.  Then come up with a game plan and see if the frugalless spending can be brought down some.  Set a goal to not go over a certain amount. 

By not going to lunch everyday and keeping his itune purchases to a minimum we were able to save a good extra amount each month.  This extra money was then able to go to other more important areas, like paying down our debt.  My husband and I were able to talk out this issue and come to an agreement and a game plan.  This game plan helped other areas of our money problems and in return helped strengthen our relationship.

3.  Money Secrets

Now this is a big one!  This is the reason why my parents got a divorce.  They were not open about their finances.  My dad kept it a secret that he was drowning in debt.  He was not open and honest with my mom about his finances and allowed her to spend without consequences.  Well the secret ultimately led to a big consequence...divorce!

I think it is so important to be honest about your financial situation.  No matter how big of a debt you have, share this information with your partner.  Eventually the truth always comes out and you usually create a bigger problem by lieing about your situation.

Prior to my husband and I getting married we came completely clean about our money issues.  He knew exactly how much debt I was bringing into the marriage and I knew how much he was bringing in.  There is nothing about our finances that we don't both know.  By being honest with each other, we were able to create a plan for becoming debt free.  We also are able to speak honestly with one another when it comes to money.  If I want to buy something that costs a pretty penny, my husband will very often say OK but that could go towards paying off credit card #1.  And of course, I do the same for him.  This helps keep us on track with our financial goals.  By being completely honest with each other, and eliminating our money secrets, we have rid ourselves of any obstacles on our road to being debt free.

4.  Being Budgetless

Creating a budget, in my opinion, is the best way to resolve any money problems a couple may have.  Once my husband and I were able to see where all of our money was going each month there left little room for argument.  If it wasn't in the budget then we couldn't buy it.  Having a budget helps eliminate the frugalless spending problem  My husband and I set aside a certain amount every month for eating out.  Once that money was gone then we had to eat what we had from the store.

By not having a budget, it is also hard to plan how you will eliminate your debt.  For our budget, we pay all of the bills first, this includes the minimum payments on all of our credit cards.  We then take whatever is left over and apply it to the credit card we are currently paying off.  Without our budget, we would have no idea how much extra we can allot to the credit card. 

Now you have to be careful when budgeting.  The first couple of months were kind of a disaster for my husband and I.  We forgot to budget for gas!  So when you create a budget make sure you take into account ALL of your expenses.

5.  Selfish Spending

Now this one was, and still is, hard for me to overcome.  It definitely goes into the "my money is your money" motto my husband and I have.  Because I am currently the primary money maker in the household it is very hard for me to walk away from items I would like to buy.  Now I don't do this often, because like I said, I am more of a saver than a spender.  But every once in awhile there is a new purse or watch (my two fetishes) that I really really really want to have.  I used to have the attitude that I work really hard and I deserve to buy myself a present.  I should have something to show for all the hard work I do.  This is very selfish spending! 

When I have this mindset I am completely going against the idea of "our money"  I am not thinking about how this $200 purse is going to set us back and create a road block in becoming debt free.  I am only thinking of myself and what I want.  The whole idea of my husband and I as a couple is gone.  I am no longer thinking of the effects my spending will have on our relationship and money situation.  At the moment, all I can think is, I deserve this Coach purse!

It's pretty evident how selfish spending can create a major money problem in a relationship.  You have to believe that every dollar you make is also made by your partner.  No matter who brings in more money, its always "our money."  You don't have the right to just spend because you think you deserve it.  If you don't want to discuss it with your partner and try to budget for the expense then you probably shouldn't be in a relationship.  Selfish spending is for single people!  If you are single and spend $200 on a purse, then you are only hurting yourself and your own financial future.

So there you have it!  The top 5 money problems in relationships, well at least in my opinion.  Hopefully I was able to provide some insight into these issues and give you some solutions if you and your partner are dealing with any of these problems.  Also, if you have any more "money problems in relationships," feel free to share!

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

My Hubby Rocks!!

Hopefully all of you married gals out there think the same way about your husbands!!  But honestly mine is freaking AWESOME!!!  He has been cranking it up at work and we are looking at paying off one of our credit cards by the end of the month...fingers crossed everything goes as planned!!

I am really lucky that my husband and I agree whole heartedly on how our finances work out each month.  It is pretty common knowledge that money troubles are the number one reasons why marriages fall apart.  And, I know the heartache it can cause first hand because I lived it with my own parents.

Because my parents have always struggled with keeping their finances in order and living within their means, it has been very important to me that my husband and I are completely honest with each other when it comes to money.  There is not a single purchase I make that he does not know about.  And the same thing goes for his spending.  We each have access to each others bank accounts and savings accounts.  We pay the bills together and we even plan out what we are going to do with our extra money at the end of each month.  Which really goes towards all of our debt since we are both on a mission to becoming debt free.

So needless to say, we rarely get to do anything super fun!  I mean just going to the movies can easily rack up a $50 bill with tickets and refreshments!!  Its so hard to justify paying that much for a few hours when we know it could help pay down one of our credit cards.  But, I think its very important to have a little fun in your life...especially with the love of your life!  You just have to get a little creative in order to maintain your budget!

Well, I am probably the least creative person on this earth!  So I usually resort to googling things and doing a little research on the internet.  And, that's what I did.  I found this article on the internet and thought it had some fabulous date night ideas:

My top 5 picks are:
1. Be a tourist in your own city
2. 20 Questions
3. Breakin Records
4. Take a factory tour
5. Make indoor smores and share campfire stories

There were many more ideas that I love but I'm definitely going to plan these first!  It's so great having a husband who has the same views on money, spending, and saving as I do.  I really think it helps to strengthen our relationship.  It gives us an opportunity to talk and plan together.  Not only about the present but also our future.  We have a plan for our future home, kids, and retirement...all of which requires us to be financially sound. 

My husband has been so supportive and hard working when it comes to eliminating our debt and getting our finances in order.  It will be so much fun to share these cheap date ideas with him and show him how much I appreciate everything he does in helping to secure our financial future.  It's always good to reward your hard work and effort, and the hardwork of those you love.  But, it's also important to play within your means and not break the bank just to have a little fun! 

My husband and I deserve some fun in our lives with all of the hard work we do, and these 50 ideas will help us have fun without going broke!

Monday, March 5, 2012

Young, Fabulous, and BROKE

In my mission to become debt free, I am also trying to better educate myself on the subject.  I've had Suze Orman's book, The Money Book for the Young, Fabulous, and Broke, for some time now but just haven't made the time to sit down and read it.  Well since eliminating my debt seems to be consuming my free time these days, I've found great motivation to pick the book up and begin reading.

The first section I have read is about becoming aware of your FICO score.  Like me, Suze believes knowledge is power.  And, knowing how you rank with your score puts you ahead of the game and enables you to get a game plan together if your score isn't up to par.

Now for me, paying the $50 to get my scores from the three credit agencies just isn't worth it at the moment.  I am not in the market for a car, house, loan, or credit card.  So paying to get my score right now, when I don't even need to use it, just doesn't make since to me.

What I did get out of reading this section of Suze's book is to get my credit report from the three angencies.  Your credit report can give you a generalized idea of what your FICO score may be.  Basically, you want to make sure you are in good standing with all three angencies and you don't have any negative marks on your reports.

The best thing about all of this is, the three reporting agencies are required to give everyone one free credit report a year!  This is good because you can monitor your credit report and make sure everything on there is accurate.  Basically, make sure you haven't fallen victim to identy theft!  To get your free credit report you can go to

So, I checked out my credit report with all three agencies and I am happy to say everything seemed accurate!  Although, I do have a lot of debt, and my debt to credit ratio is pretty high.  Even though I pay all my bills on time I still may not have the most ideal FICO score until I pay my debt down some more.

For this reason, I am going to hold off on finding out my FICO scores.  Personally, I think it would be better to wait until I get my debt down.  And, I probably won't inquire about it until it comes closer to the time I want to buy a house or a car.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Most and Least for the week

As I've begun this journey of tackling my debt and sharing my experiences I've begun to appreciate the value other bloggers can provide.  I have a few financial blogs I really enjoy reading.  One of these blogs is TeacHer Finance.  This blogger has posts where she talks about the "Most and Least" purchases of her week.  I thought this was a brilliant idea and would be very helpful in keeping up with my spending habits.  So I'm going to steal her idea!  Hopefully she won't mind!!

So here are my "Most and Least" for the week:

Most Expensive Purchase: The Ninja Kitchen System 1200.  This bad boy cost $159.99 plus tax.  But, I didn't actually spend the money.  We bought the system using some gift cards we have gotten for wedding gifts.  But, I still consider it a purchase!
Least Expensive Purchase:  A birthday card for my BFF.  This cost me $0.99 plus tax.

Most Exciting Purchase:  I'm going to have to go with the Ninja system again!  It's amazing what this thing can do!
Least Exciting Purchase:  Some card stock paper I needed for work.  This cost me $14.68 plus tax.

Most Fun Purchase:  The hubs and I LOVE game nights!  Our friend had one for her birthday, so we bought a game for $24.99 plus tax to bring to the party!
Least Fun Purchase:  I'm going to go with the card stock again.

Care to share your "Most and Least" for the week?