Tuesday, March 27, 2012
A Spending (And Saving) Update!
I found out a few weeks ago that we are getting a fairly large tax refund and, since I found out, I have thought about numerous ways to use the money. (I've probably spent it in my head about 1,000 times or more.) We can pay off more debt. We can put money towards our family vacation in June with my parents at the beach. We can get the doors installed in Justin's office (this is a priority). We can buy Joey a new bike (also a priority). We can put most of the money in savings.
We will probably do a combination of these things. The state refund came and we immediately transferred that to savings. We are now waiting on the federal refund, which is pretty large. We will also transfer that over to savings until we decide what to do with it.
In the meantime, I have been working on curtailing my impulsive spending and paying off credit cards and I am happy to say that I have been making quite a bit of progress. Justin has had tons of overtime, which helps immensely. It hasn't been very good for any of us mentally that he is working around the clock, but we sure do appreciate the ability to make a lot of progress on some of that consumer debt.
I decided that in March, I would write down what I spent every single day for the entire month and at the end, I would figure out where I spend money that I shouldn't or where I am spending money in excess of what I am budgeting. I am planning a blog entry at the end of March with some interesting results.
In the meantime, I am so happy to say that I have paid off the furniture we bought when I was employed and thought we had extra income. We took out a two year interest free loan and I continued to make the $100 payments every month. This month, it was down to $200 and I just went ahead and paid it. I am so happy to have this monkey off my back, because every time I got the bill, I was reminded that I lost that job right after we bought the furniture.
I have also paid off my Old Navy card, my Visa card, my Mastercard, and our Lowe's card. I also made a substantial payment on Justin's Mastercard as well. And this month I was able to send a sizable payment on our joint credit card that is used for groceries, prescriptions, gas, Ben's tuition and books, and anything else that is a "necessary" expense. That one is going to take a little bit longer, but I am hoping that it will be paid off by the end of the summer and we will be able to then pay it off on a monthly basis. We decided to use the credit card instead of the debit card as soon as Congress passed whatever law it was that caused the banks to start charging more in fees. I simply won't pay the $5 a month to use my debit card for transactions. (Thank you, Congress. You have helped me so much!)
We have also managed to get our savings balance back up to a comfortable amount. It feels like a luxury that we are able to decide whether to put money in savings, use the refund entirely for the credit card, or get some of the things we have been needing. Our icemaker permanently died in the refrigerator and we are spending about $8 a week on premade ice because we go through it so fast and having ice cube trays wouldn't produce enough ice. So, we need a new refrigerator and now we can plan for it. It would cost us over $400 to replace the icemaker and we've been wanting a new fridge for awhile anyway.
I also will be happily writing a check to my mom to pay for a portion of the beach house she rented and I will be calling the home improvement guy to get him started on the doors for Justin's office. That is something that I have been wanting for him ever since he started working from home. His job can get extremely intense and loud when things are breaking and some days he spends entirely on the phone on conference calls. Having doors would allow him more privacy and me more freedom in my house to do things that might involve noise. He will be able to close the doors to alert me that I shouldn't interrupt him. It's a win-win.
It's very nice to be able to say that, for the most part, I have been very very good about not charging things. I have been taking money from the cash I had saved up whenever I wanted to buy something that wasn't an online purchase. I think I have decided to take a cash allowance for myself every month to make sure I don't have to charge anything except my monthly cottages kits from 123 Stitch (which will end in December, obviously). I have been using the library again, so no book downloads in weeks and weeks. And I've only been clothes shopping once in the last two months. I've looked at clothes online a lot, but I've been really good about not actually ordering any. Sometimes just putting it in the checkout cart and leaving it is an awesome thing, because when I come back the next day, I usually decide I don't need whatever it was. The exception is that right now I am in great need of summer pajamas, sandals, some Keds type white sneakers, and shorts that fit around the waist, but I have been very patient in waiting and hopefully some things will go on sale shortly.
I will be back with an interesting list of my March spending for those of you who come to my blog because you are on spending diets. Just have to get through the 31st and then I can add up what I spent for what. Hopefully, it won't be awful! It feels like I've been good, but it adds up really fast, even when you are paying cash out on a daily basis.
I feel grateful to be in a position where Justin has a job and gets paid for any overtime he works. I hate that he has to work it, but if he has to, then the paycheck being bigger really helps with our budget.