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Archive for December, 2007

$20 Challenge, etc.

December 31st, 2007 at 04:02 am

Lots of activity here on the board, in preparation for a new year! I've noticed several of you talking about your net worth. This is probably a dumb question, but how exactly do I figure that out? (I'm not sure I really want to know my net worth, LOL!)

I have decided to start my own $20 Challenge for this year. I opened up a second savings account awhile back with a purpose in mind for it, but I never really did anything with it so it was just sitting there pretty much empty. So I upped the balance in it to $20, and that's my starting point. Into it I will deposit any rebates I receive, money from online surveys (which I have started doing since joining this board), and any funds from eBay and garage sales or Craigslist sales. I have a rebate coming soon from AT&T (for my daughter's cell phone) in the form of a Visa debit card, so I will put the cash equivalent into the account and use the card for groceries. Same plan will apply for any survey proceeds which come in the form of cards of any type. As far as garage sales, well, I need to have one. I have lived in my current rental home for 4.5 years (following divorce and major downsizing in living quarters), and I have boxes out in the garage that I have never unpacked. I hate having garage sales, but I know the time will come that I have to get rid of all that stuff, and I might as well profit from it. So I'm going to plan to have a sale, probably in the spring (unless I get a wild hair sooner than that!). In the meantime, I can list small items here and there on eBay. I currently have a bit over $80 sitting in my PayPal account for items I've sold over the past week. I have another auction ending tomorrow, so when the funds from that come in I'll transfer that $100 or so into my challenge account. I'm sure I'll make up other rules and guidelines for challenge money as I go, but that's my starting point. And I'm not sure yet what I'll do with the money, but I'll probably put it towards paying down my debt ... which increased almost $300 over Christmas (yikes, I'm going the wrong way)!!

Not sure if I mentioned that I started a new job at the beginning of October, so I'm fairly new with a very large company (with great benefits!). I'm supposed to be receiving a bonus at the end of January, which everyone receives; know that it won't be much because I started w/the company so late in the year, but whatever I get will be great! Depending on how much it is, I will probably use it for my Emergency Fund (which I still do not have in place yet). At least, it will be the starting point for my EF, something to build on! Then I hope to be able to file my tax return fairly early as well. My taxes are pretty simple since I don't own a home or property, don't have investments, etc. Not to mention the fact that I made hardly any money last year! The past couple of years I've gotten pretty good refunds (several thousand dollars), thanks to the EIC, and I anticipate the same this year. Whenever I receive my refund, that's going to be thrown directly at my debt!

Next thing I need to look at is starting my 401(k); my company will match 3% so I'd be crazy not to do it. I just find all the information so confusing. Can't I just say "I want X amount deducted from my check each pay period, y'all take it and make it grow"?!!

A little of this, a little of that ...

December 20th, 2007 at 06:26 am

I am here every night, reading the blogs, but gosh, I didn't realize it had been so long since I posted an entry in my own! I've joined a few of those pay-survey sites, and actually qualified to take a survey tonight for the first time. I also joined CashCrate and have already become eligible for my first $10 payout, woo hoo! I've got a few things listed on eBay, as well. I guess I need to start my own challenge with these sorts of things.

I've been tracking my spending for almost a month now, so I'm interested to see what my totals are. I'll probably do that next week when I have more time to devote to it. I've done surprisingly well at taking my lunch to work every day, which has been great for my budget as well as my diet! I'm really surprised that I've already noticed how quickly small amounts add up ... such a basic principle should be easily understood (or so one might think), but I seriously have only just begun to see it! This is pretty big stuff for me!!

Christmas shopping is almost done, but I'll be out on Friday night to finish up. My daughter and I are driving about 4 hours to see family this weekend, and we'll celebrate our Christmas then. My son is staying home because he agreed to work a couple of shifts for a friend before he realized it was when we were supposed to go away; I agreed to let him stay and work because he's got a big down payment due on his car insurance renewal in a few weeks, and he really needs the money! It will be strange celebrating Christmas without him there, though. My daughter and I will drive back home on Christmas Eve, then both kids will go to their dad's. I plan to spend Christmas day looking at my expenses, budgeting for January, and researching financial aid options for my son (who was accepted last week into Texas A&M, his first choice). Merry Ho-Ho!!

Read Any Good Budgeting Books Lately?

December 9th, 2007 at 06:11 am

I could swear I have read in a couple of blogs here that there is one particularly good book (and I know it's not a Dave Ramsey book) ... and I was going to look to see if my library had it. The other night I got online to look, and I couldn't remember my PIN for my library account. Today I remembered the PIN, and I can't remember the title of the book! Anyone have any ideas?

Pathetic

December 4th, 2007 at 05:00 am

My son is filling out applications for financial aid for next year, so he was asking me some questions tonight. One of the questions was how much I have saved. It's pretty pathetic when the 46-year-old mom has to tell the 17-year-old son she has $100 in her savings account! Geez, my son has more money in his savings than I have in mine (not much, but STILL)!! I don't think he believed me at first. I can hardly believe it myself, actually ... it's such a depressing feeling.

Kinda Bummed

December 3rd, 2007 at 05:44 am

I sat down yesterday to pay some bills and do some budgeting, and at that point realized that I really can't start my gung-ho plan of action for saving and paying off bills until next month ... because I haven't bought any Christmas gifts yet and I have no money set aside for doing so! What was I thinking? I have no idea! Anyway, I spent quite a bit of time trying to "find" money in other areas of my budget, and it's really going to be tight. I still don't know how I'm going to manage, but I will figure it out. On top of that, my son's car (which used to be mine, and it's been a money sponge since I bought it) went in the shop before Thanksgiving, and it's probably going to cost $800 or $900 to repair (more than half of that is labor). My ex-husband proposed splitting the cost 3 ways, which I agree is fair, but could it have come at a worse time?? Ugh.

On a brighter note, I am really proud of myself because not only did I take my lunch to work EVERY DAY last week, I prepared dinner EVERY NIGHT -- NO take-out food at all, period! Woo-hoo!! I wrote down everything I spent money on, every day, and even in just the short time I have been doing so I can see how much money I've been wasting up until this point, on insignificant things and fast food! It's really quite an eye-opener!! So, even though I have this setback in my plan, I am still excited about it!

I have seen the "$20 Challenge" referenced in many blogs here, but can someone explain to me exactly what it is? It seems like there are several different ways to do it. I'd like to know more!