I have two main goals for April:
(1) Set up an escrow account -- I opened this account yesterday morning and already transfered in the first contribution. (I love adding something to my to do list and then checking it off right away, so CHECK!)
(2) Get our restaurant spending under control. We started using the envelope system for groceries last month, and I was amazed at how much less we spent! But our eating out expenses are out of control! In fact, I am ashamed by the amount of money we have spent on dining the past few months. Last month we both did some traveling, which contributed, but we still spent *way* more than is necessary. So much that I am embarrassed to write down the actual number! Our goal for eating out this month is $200. (I would eventually like to get this lower, but baby steps...) The good news is that (with the exception of a business dinner for me), we have been able to keep to our meal plan this entire week. So we do have more self-control that I originally thought!
I have a lot of other goals I'd like to pursue, but I think I'll be better able to tackle them one at a time, so I will save them for another month.
In other news, my husband and I finished fully funding both of our 2008 Roths this morning, and it feels good to have that taken care of. It was sad to see the balance of our savings account decrease so substantially, but I know the money has moved on to a better place!
I have two main goals for April:
I am feeling fantastic! I was so close to ordering out for dinner tonight, but I didn't! I had initially planned on making spaghetti and meatballs for dinner tonight and then having leftovers for dinner tomorrow. (I am really trying to make a meal plan over the weekend and then *stick* to it during the week.) However, after walking home from work I was hungry and tired and seriously considering waiting for hubby to get home and just ordering pizza. But I didn't! I started making dinner, and by the time my husband got home the meatballs were in the oven, the sauce was simmering, and the pasta water was boiling.
The house smelled fantastic, and hubby was impressed. (Because many times he has come home to my suggestion of ordering pizza!) I know it is a small thing, but it still feels pretty good!
One of the tips I've picked up from reading all the blogs here is the idea of an Escrow account for expenses that aren't on a monthly basis. I think I first saw this on Creditcardfree's blog, but I remember reading about this idea on other people's blogs as well.
These non-monthly expenses are a real problem for me, because I forget about them until they are due. Then I have to find $500 for the car insurance, and since it's not an expense I am expecting, it has to come from money that was meant for savings. I think if I tucked this money away in a separate account every month, then I would have it when I needed it, and I would actually spend less in the previous months because the Escrow money wouldn't be available to spend on something else. So I'm going to give it a try, starting in April.
One question, though -- since I'm jumping into an Escrow account mid-way between all of these expenses, should I try to put extra in now so that I have the full amount available when the big bill comes due, or should I just put away the monthly amount for now, and pay the extra out of savings the first time the bill comes due? Does this question even make sense?
Recently my husband and I decided to give up our cable. Our introductory rate had expired and we did not want to pay $80 a month! We discussed the pros and cons and then decided to give life without cable a try. It has now been about one month since we did this, and it is working great!
Instead of cable, we have been watching online shows on our TV using some A/V cables that I purchased at Target. We just hook up our laptop to the TV and we're all set. We can watch most of our favorite programs on the website Hulu.com, or on the various network websites, and in full-screen mode the picture is just as good as it used to be with regular cable. For the few shows that aren't available for free, we purchase them on iTunes for $1.99 an episode. Even if we have to purchase a few shows a month, it's still way less than $80! And all with fewer commercials. I call this little set-up our free TiVo, since we can watch the shows on our schedule, not the network's schedule. (We do have to wait for the show to become available, but that just teaches us patience...)
The real test of this method came last weekend, with the start of the NCAA basketball tournament. We are both HUGE sports fans, and we usually contribute to the low productivity that occurs when the tournament starts in March. I was nervous about not being able to watch the games without going to a sports bar, but CBS is streaming ALL of the games live on the internet. So we hooked the laptop up to the TV, and were able to watch basketball all weekend. (We even get to choose which game to watch, which is great since hubby's alma mater is a smaller school that doesn't get a lot of national attention!)
A side benefit of not having cable is that when I get home from work, I don't just plop down in front of the television to unwind. Which means I've got more time to devote on other things, like reading books from the library and spending quality time with the husband.
We are thinking of saving half of the $80 we would have spent, and donating the other half to our local library. I want to save it all, but our library is always facing budget cuts, and we do use it quite a bit!
Thanks, everyone, for the warm welcome! I am feeling pretty happy with my Sunday, so far. My husband and I went for a walk around the neighborhood we hope to someday live in -- exercise for the body *and* nourishment for the soul. Walking around, looking at houses, and making big (and sometimes unrealistic) plans is one of my favorite things to do. Plus, I love that it's sunny out, and really starting to feel like spring. After that, we made the rounds to the stores and did our grocery shopping for the coming week -- and came in $19 under budget! Now if I can just keep to the meals I've planned for the week...
After lunch, I went into work for a few hours, and got quite a bit accomplished. I was on vacation last week, and I always feel it's easier to dive back in if I get some of the busy work (emails, planning, etc) taken care of before the first day back. On the way home from work, I stopped off to use our rewards discount at the Safeway gas station. We only use these rewards once a quarter, right before they expire, since the nearest Safeway gas station is a little bit out of the way. But a few times a year it's worth the extra drive for the savings. Since the current quarter ends on Saturday, we had to use them or lose them. So I filled up the tank for only $11.54. I feel like I'm living in a whole different decade!
Hope you are enjoying your Sunday afternoon!
I've been lurking around these blogs since the first of the year, and I'm finally ready to dive in. First, let me say that I've really enjoyed reading about all of your personal finance journeys -- and I've picked up some tips!
I hope to primarily use this blog as a means for staying on track with my savings goals. My husband recently got a new job (hard in this current economic climate, I know) which will substantially increase our income in the next few months. His new job is much more permanent than his old job was, and so we finally feel comfortable enough to put down some roots in our current community. Which means -- we are starting to think seriously (rather than dream) about buying a house.
As a result, I really want to ramp up our savings and see how much we can sock away every month. Given housing prices where we live, we will need a substantial down payment before we can even think about making an offer. Not that that stops us from looking and dreaming!
So I'll see y'all around. I'm looking forward to commenting on your blogs instead of silently lurking
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