Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Thank Goodness for the FSA

I just spent $15-20 at Walgreens. I honestly don't remember because at the register my focus was on applying medicine as quickly as possible. My body is still unhappy with me, but all I can think is thank goodness for my Flexible Spending Account which will pay for half of what I spent today and the many doctors appointments that seem to be in my near future.

One great thing about my employer is that we get $600 of FSA money free. Usually FSA money is for health or dependent care and deducted from you paycheck pretax. Because we are a small office and have deductibles that are a little high my employer uses the extra FSA money to supplement.

Anyone else loving their FSA's?

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Book Review: Become Totally Debt-Free in Five Years or Less

A few weeks back I headed to the library to get a few personal finance books. I couldn't find any super popular books so I decided to just grab what was available. Among others I ended up with Become Totally Debt-Free in Five Years of Less.

There are two main sections. The first, Getting the Right Mindset, is about accessing your situation, living within your means, and making mental changes. The second section, Now It's Time to Become Debt-Free, comprises most of the book and is a compilation of tips on how reduce debt/save money. The tips range from the mundane- clip coupons, pay more than credit car minimums, shopping at garage sales- to things I felt were a bit weird- moving in with family and renting your place out to pay your mortgage down sooner*. The book presents many bite sized tips on how to get out of and avoid debt. Most of the tips are one to two paragraphs long.

If you've spent any time reading personal finance or frugal blogs this book won't do much for you. In the short time I've been writing this blog I've covered many of the topics she covered and read about the others with the folks on my blogroll.

Who could benefit: Someone who is just getting started.
Would I make a friend read it: No.
Will it make its way to my bookshelf: Nope.

*Theoretically I don't have an issue with living with family to save money. However there is no mention of contributing to the household you're staying in. Staying with family in tough times, ok. Freeloading so you can pay your mortgage down faster, not so much.

Monday, April 28, 2008

my body getting in the way

Yesterday I did what I thought would be the last grocery shopping of the month. I hadn't run the numbers, but I knew I was just under the budget ($150) I set for the household. I gave myself the proverbial pat on the back an moved on.

Fast forward 24 hours and I'm $20 over. I'm blaming it on my immune system. It's always been overzealous (a listing of my allergies could take up a whole post) and this morning it decided to hit me full force. By 10:30 I gave in and took an antihistamine to combat the hives and swollen lips. The rest of the day was spent in a drug induced fog.

5 calls later I have an appointment with an allergist, only problem is that it's a week from now, and in the mean time I can't take any antihistamine*. Which equals doing my best not to eat the things I think are driving my body crazy. The problem? The suspected culprit is in 85% of what I eat. On the drive home I started brainstorming dinner. The first five things I came up with are all out. An examination of the fridge and grocery store confirmed that I didn't have much on hand to deal with the new eating plan.

In the grand scheme of things an extra $20 for health reasons is not much. But gosh is it frustrating.

In other news we found a house we loved, put in an offer, and lost.

*I guess I can take antihistamine, but if I do I'll have to push back finding out what's wrong.

Stimulus Checks

Instead of getting ready for work (like I should be doing now) I decided to check my bank account and see if the stimulus check fairies had worked their magic. The checks start this week and I am scheduled to be in the first group.

As of 10:16 EDT my bank account is no richer. I'm not relying on the money for anything, so it's not a big deal. I just think it will be interesting to see exactly how soon it will come.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Free (and almost free) Ice Cream!

There are a few things that say Spring to me. Warmer weather, the first official flip flop day, driving with the window's down, buds on trees, flowers poking up. This year things have been heightened because 90% of the classes I observe are talking about some aspect of spring.

A former boss said that spring doesn't officially start until Free Cone Day and the trek to B&J's was considered a team building activity. If your Tuesday's is all booked up Wednesday night offers 31 cent cones. Or if you really love ice cream (and have access) do boh.

Tuesday 4/29 Ben and Jerry's free cones
Wednesday 4/30 Baskin-Robbins .31 scoops

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Paying Myself First

Examining your budget and spending patterns leads to an examination of habits. Some of the things that come up are thing you knew and while others come as a surprise. Generally the surprises are things you should have been aware of but aren't for one reason or another.

What I've realized this month is I don't pay myself first. Usually this phrase is used to refer to putting money into savings before paying bills/expenses. My issue is applying for money otherwise due to me.

A few examples:
In the past two months I've gone on 4 trips for works. When things go as planned the rental cars and hotels go on a work card that I don't hold. I use my own cash/card to pay for food and gas. Supposedly I fill out a reimbursement form when I get home. I've yet to turn in anything from April and most of my food from March.

I also get a (paltry) mileage reimbursement for all non office driving I do. I think my last one went in mid March.

Last month I did some consulting work. I decided instead of submitting two sheets within two weeks I would wait for edit requests and then submit one sheet. A month later the edit requests still haven't come.
The biggest issue is that I hate reimbursement paperwork. It's boring, tedious, and usually a pain to fill out. Then there's the issue of having my million receipts (handily stored in a repurposed envelope) with me when the urge strikes. The final issue is time. After a trip I usually have a backlog of work, housework, and sleep to tackle. Getting caught up gets my effort instead of getting reimbursements done.

Now that I've identified the problem I need a plan. I'm going to write time into my schedule for keeping up with my personal paperwork. Instead of having things mass up on me after a full month I'm going to schedule paperwork time twice a month. Month end (when I usually try to do things) is a crazy stressful time in my office. So instead of waiting until the end of the month I'm going to schedule during the first and third weeks of the month.

I'll keep you posted on things working out.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Grey's Stupid

Grey's Anatomy is back! This makes me irrationally excited.

In financial news I've fallen subject to the stupid tax. Of all the stupid taxes I tell myself it's not a bad one. So how did I mess up? Not bringing things back to the library in time. I kept forgetting to put everything I had checked out in the car, or canceling a greater trip the library was a part of,* or just general forgetfulness. I haven't figured out the damage yet, but it goes to a good cause right? Helping the library buy more books and CD's for me to enjoy in the future? Well I'm going to keep telling myself that. ;)

Have you paid the stupid tax lately?

*in an effort to save gas

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Mystery shopping

I started mystery shopping in grad school because of the flexibility and a chance for a little extra income. Over the past year and a half I’ve worked with a variety of companies and come up with a list of favorites. I’ve also set up some rules for accepting assignments and maximizing my profit.

1) Only do shops near home/ that fit into planned trips. This cuts down on unnecessary driving and keeps me from running all over town. Financially it also makes sense. For a shop that pays $10, I don’t want to spend a lot of time driving in addition to the time the shop and report writing will take.

2) If the shop requires a purchase only go to stores you’d regularly frequent. This cuts down on the clutter at home and keeps me form feeling wasteful. Similarly, if its an info digging shop I tend towards areas I need information on. For instance, choosing an electronics shop when I’m pricing something new.

3) Take the reimbursement price into account if you can’t return required purchases. There was a shop I took a few times before I realized I wasn’t making (and sometimes loosing) money. If a shop pays $10 and you have a reimbursement maximum of $5 but nothing in the store costs less than $15 there is no profit.

4) Accept shops that fund ‘date’ nights. These are shops that would usually break rule 3 but help keep the rest of our budget on track. Mystery shopping usually pays for dinner out once a month and bowling once every few months.

My top two favorites are:
ICCDS: Variety of retail shops. Pays better than most. Paypal payments, usually within a month.

: Restaurant shops, age compliance, electronic stores. Monthly checks.

I also work with:
Kern Scheduling: They schedule for a wide range of mystery shopping companies. Often you have to go to a new company and sigh up. It work though because you can see assignment details first.

The links are to their main sights. If they do referrals I don't know about them and I'm not getting paid to write about any of the companies. These are just the ones I like working with.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Slow month

This has been a pretty slow month for me. I've had 4 mystery shopping/babysitting jobs but that's about it. On the plus side we haven't spent that much on groceries either. I don't have the numbers in front of me but I'm pretty sure it's around $50 so far. The fridge is getting a little stark though, so that will change soon.

Next month I don't have any work travel. Hopefully it will give me the time to bring in more snowflakes.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Happy Numbers

Last summer, in a moment of weakness, I signed up for one of those credit secure programs. The ones that send you a detailed credit report and then send you regular updates. Two month's later I realized how much they were charging a month ($11) and that I'd forgotten to cancel my subscription. I called right away and got things taken care of.

My Experian and Equifax scores were respectable, but not amazing. They were in the upper 600's and Transunion came in mid 700's. Fast forward nine months. Gameboy and I are ready to buy a home and we go to get pre-approval/good faith estimate* from a lender. We've been headed here for a few months and honestly I've been anxious about my credit score. Since I knew I would be having my credit pulled we decided not to pull them ourselves because we didn't want a possible ding or to use up our free pulls. I didn't think my score would have gone down, but in general I'm a worrier.

So Friday we're sitting with the loan officer giving him all sorts of information. He types away, does some clicking, and then tells me my current credit score.

Transunion: 740's
Experian: 760's
Equifax: 790's

Transunion was down 4 points, Equifax was up 69 points, and Experian was up 110 points. I don't know what's going on with Transunion, but I'm guessing the other two increases are due to me starting repayment (and overpaying) on my student loans which were in deferment last time my credit was pulled.

When we buy a house I know the numbers will fall. In the mean time is nice to have another benefit from working so hard over the past few months.

*The pre-approval says how much money they are willing to lend us. The good faith estimate outlines fee's and costs associated with the mortgage.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Waste Follow up

In my last post I talked about a wasteful family that was featured on Oprah. They were followed by another family in a similar situation. The consensus that both families reached is that they didn't realize how wasteful they were being. I think the same is true for most American's. The exact area may vary, be it food, electronics, fuel, but in general we don't realize how we are being wasteful.

Since I talked about others in my last post I feel the need to share an issue that I have. I hate being home alone without the TV on. A while back Single Guy Money wrote about how his childhood affects his finance. My TV issue goes back to the very first time I stayed home by myself. I was in second grade and had to take medicine at certain intervals. Instead of going to a friends apartment upstairs in my building after school my mom and I decided I had it together enough to stay home for the 2 hours until she got home.

For the first 30 minutes everything was great. I thought I was grown and loved the freedom. Then two guys down the hall got into an argument. It was loud and scary and I freaked out. I put the chain lock on the door, went to my mom's room (mine was across from the front door), turned on the TV, and got under the covers.

Now, almost 20 years later, I still don't like total quiet when I'm home by myself, especially late at night. A lot of the time the TV is white noise in the background. Reading is the main activity I can think of doing at home without the TV on. I'm going to try to get used to quiet and not use the TV as white noise. I'm going to try to use more radio, itunes, and podcasts to fill the void when I want some sounds. I'll let you know how it's going in a couple of weeks.


Today is my first full day home in a week. After doing a couple of chores I decided that I would kick back and catch up on things recorded over the last week I'm not 10 minutes into an episode of Oprah and I'm flabbergasted and not surprised at the same time.

The premise is getting a family who is super wasteful to live on only what they need for 1 week. The family got a letter from Oprah that reflected basic idea's you've read on most frugal blogs- turn down the thermostat, kick bottled water, eat at home, and eat leftovers. Mom, Dad, and three teens make up the family. I haven't seen how it ends up, but what killed me was what the family wasted before.

On grocery day mom opened the fridge and cabinets so she could purge enough stuff to buy new groceries*. Each family member eats something different for dinner. When the mom said oh, our son will only eat pasta I seriously pictured a 6 year old. Instead he's in his teens. Dad seems stressed about the spending, complaining about the number of appliances (5) one girl had going at once and the level of the thermostat. Though a few clips later dad and two girls are off to buy a new TV for on of the daughters who purposely broke her old TV because it wasn't a plasma.

The kicker- to fund this lifestyle dad has to take loans from family members. I have a general problem with wastefulness. I'm nowhere near perfect, but try not to have food go bad and otherwise buy excessively. It's one thing to be wasteful, it's another do do so with someone else's dollars.

Now that I've calmed down a bit I'm going to finish watching. Hopefully the experience will be an "a hah" moment for the whole family and get them on a better path.

*This especially kills me when in other countries close to home people can't afford to buy what little food is available and are relying on handouts.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Redirection and willpower

When I am at schools working I do an observation and then interview the teachers. One of my questions is how they handle behavior problems. 99% of the time the answer involves redirecting the children. Today's post at Gather Little By Little made me think about how I use this technique (and a bit of willpower) with my own friends.

I've let all of my close friends know that I'm working on reducing my debt. From international travel to drinks before an event, my friends want to socialize in ways that involves money. For example, one of my friends likes to go out for food before or after anything we do. Once in a while, when it fits into the budget, I'll say yes. For the times in between I suggest a potluck, picnic, or cooking together as an alternative. When its my turn to plan the get together with my girls from grad school I do the same thing.

It takes a lot of willpower to keep redirecting. Without my financial goals I would probably say yes most of the time and enjoy. Instead I think about being debt free, having enough saved for retirement, and being able to do the things we want to do. I also tell my friends what I've accomplished this year. Though I think I've just done ok they are amazed at my overpayment's. So when I'm saying no I think of the incredulous sound on their face when I tell them about my progress.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Dear local news

It is April, 27 days after the start of Spring. Can we call it something other than a Winter Storm Warning. The thought of 5 inches of snow is more than enough.

Also, to the fire marshal in a county 4 hrs away. If the snow is falling so fast that I can't see your jacket why not move the fire press conference inside?

And finally, to the folks who have managed to start 3 fires in my state and 2 in a neighboring state. Remember that we live in the desert. When it's not actively snowing lets refrain from burning trash and doing other fun things that start major fires. OK?

Now returning to my regularly (well somewhat regularly) scheduled blogging on finance and frugality.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Repurposing Bill and Junk Mail Envelopes

If your household is anything like mine you get too much mail. For us it's a mix of bills, credit card offers, and random stuff from people who sell our names. Once we move this year I plan on using one of the services that stops all your junk mail and plants trees. Until then I'm using the 8 zillion envelopes to my advantage.

When we open mail things go into one of 3 places. Things we need to file go into a pile to be dealt with later. Anything with sensitive data that we don't need to hang on to goes into the shredder. Non sensitive papers go into a recycling bag beside the shredder (to extend the life of the shredder). 80% of what goes into the recycling bag is envelopes that I fish out as needed to:

Keeping receipts- When I travel for work I have to turn in receipts if I want to be reimbursed for food and gas. Two trips ago I learned that pockets and take-out bags are not safe places for receipts. I'm missing once receipt, and of course it's for the most expensive dinner of the trip. No I keep a junk mail envelope in my bag and slip all of the receipts in as soon as I get them.

Grocery shopping-I've done this 4 times now and so far it works well. I write my list on the back of the envelope and put the coupons I want to use inside. More than once I've gone and and then left the store coupon in hand because I got distracted. It also saves me from using other paper.

Writing notes- This is more Gameboy's thing, but envelopes always seem to be handier than real paper when he needs to write a phone number or other random information.

Envelope Budgeting- For those of you who break you monthly budget into envelopes with cash this could keep you from buying (or maybe borrowing from work) new envelopes when you need them.

For receipts (and probably cash) I use the return envelopes that come with bills and credit card offers. Outer and inner envelopes do the trick for grocery's and note writing.

EDITED TO ADD: Two of the services I referred to that will reduce junk mail are Green Dimes and 41 Pounds.

Monday, April 14, 2008


Mine are done!!!

Getting taxes done this year were a little more complicated than usual. Grad school, student loan interest, and making half of my income as a contractor added to the normal joy of doing taxes. I actually completed 90% back in March, but then had questions about how to claim certain mystery shopping income and needed to pull together deduction info.

The numbers:
  • Federal: -$13
  • State: $113
  • Filing Fee: $10.61 (state return)
  • Net: $89.39
I'm still trying to decide if that is a snowflake or will go towards the cost of our wedding bands.

Are you like me getting things done at the last minute? Or did you file back in January?


I'm on the road for work yet again. This time it's a 6.5 hr trip by myself. As I drove across the state I rediscovered and made good friends with cruise control. I have this feature on my car but I don't think I've used it once in the 1.25 years I've owned it.

In general cruise control isn't a good option if you're trying to be frugal. When you're going down a hill cruise control will brake to keep you exactly at your given speed. Yesterday I noticed it applied a light but steady pressure from the brake any time I went downhill. Going up hills it over accelerates to keep you at the given speed. When I'm in control I don't always stay at top speed to get up a hill and usually let gravity do most of the work going down, occasionally tapping on the brakes. So by using cruise control I'm consuming more gas and wearing out the breaks faster.

All that said the only things more valuable on my drive yesterday were dotted lines* and the CD's I brought along. The drive was a series of mountain passes and long straight highways** through the valleys. The twists and turns up and down the mountains were fun. But at hour three, when my foot was becoming increasingly heavier and the farm/ranch lands were becoming monotonous cruise control helped keep me from making an even bigger frugal mistake- getting a speeding ticket.

*I grew up in a major metro area. In driver's ed when they taught us about passing (dotted) lines I remembered thinking when on earth am I ever going to use this knowledge. The answer, 10 years later when you're stuck behind a car going 15 miles under the speed limit and you are ready to be in your hotel bed.
**If you can call a road with one lane each way a high way.

Friday, April 11, 2008

And the winner is

My Daily Dollars. I'll be contacting you for your address so I can get the coupons to you.

Thanks for everyone that participated!

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Investment Confessions

I have a confession to make. Investing, you know in the stock market, scares me. I know a bit about different savings vehicles but have avoided directly investing in the stock market because of this fear. I chose (with an uncle's help) an index fund for my Roth because I didn't want to think about it. Other than that my money lives in savings accounts, largely with ING.

A part of the problem is I haven't found any good reading on the subject that doesn't put me to sleep. I also haven't looked that hard. I get the basics, but how to research then choose a stock, what a good buying price, etc kept me from taking the plunge. I'm also not really a plunge person. I dip my toe, then my foot, think about the water temperature, dip the other foot... you get the point.

Thanks to UpDown I'm going to make my first dip. The site gives you $1,000,000 in play money to invest in the market. The play money takes away the fear of loosing my hard earned money. It also gives me a chance to do a little research and see how well my ideas pay off. As a bonus, if you beat the S&P 500's performance, you get paid. We're not talking major money, just enough to keep things interesting. Wish me luck as I start to creep in.

Are there any books, specific blog posts, or other info you think would be good for me?

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

190 Miles

That's what I drove today. The majority of it was for my day job, which gets reimbursed per mile. The rest was for mystery shopping and a last minute babysitting job. It was a full day, 12 hrs straight of working and driving. On the plus side I was able to get some home buying information, hang out with two really cool kids, and read 1.5 chapters of The Wealthy Barber (review to come). The info was from a mystery shop and the last two were at babysitting. After two hours of hard playing in the yard and the basement playroom the kids wanted to put on (a parent sanctioned) movie. While they watched I learned a little more about personal finance, while interjecting the occasional question and keeping the milk refills flowing.

In addition to getting the work do I gave my new electronic filing system a run. When working on my taxes this year* I realized that a more comprehensive system of keeping track of things would make the 2008 tax season way easier. I set up an excel spreadsheet with 2 tabs, babysitting and mystery shopping. On each I record miles driven, amount paid, if it's a reimbursement (ms), payment percentages (b), and dates. It sounds complicated but most of it uses repeating formula cells.

*my yet to be completed taxes. I'm like 99% there. Mainly I want to double check a few numbers and make adjustments based on my call to the IRS this week.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Lending Club

In my head I've been planning a post about Lending Club and my thoughts on P2P lending in general. Today I got the following in an email from Lending Club:

Lending Club has started a process to register, with the appropriate securities authorities, promissory notes that may be offered and sold to lenders through our site in the future. Until we complete the registration process, we will not accept new lender registrations or allow new commitments from existing lenders. We will continue to service all previously funded loans during this period, and lenders will be able to access their accounts, monitor their portfolios, and withdraw available funds without changes.

The borrowing side of our site will remain generally unaffected by this registration process; borrowers can continue to apply for loans and new loans posted after April 7, 2008, will be funded and held only by Lending Club.

I'd like to say I'm savvy enough to know what this means. Honesty would make me say I have no clue. Any ideas???

Coupon Giveaway

If you get coupons in your Sunday you may have noticed the P&G brand saver coupon book look a little different this month. It's filled with the usual P&G coupons but for every coupon that's redeemed they will donate the tools to make 1 liter of pure water to people in developing countries.

While I'm a sucker for this type of promotion, I'm not going to buy a lot of products I don't need. Those of you who have been following along know that I don't use laundry detergent any more and am working on other alternative cleaners.

This is where you, the readers of my blog, come in. I'll send (within the US) all of the coupons I'm not using your way. I'm not going to list each one but included are: Febreeze, laundry care, disposable razors, Swiffer stuff, Dawn dish detergent, and Covergirl makeup.

To enter comment by 8 pm MDT on Thursday, April 10, 2008. I'll use a random number generator to choose the winner. If you don't have a blog leave an email for me to contact you, me AT gmail DOT com form is fine. Bloggers I'll track you down through your blogs.

Monday, April 7, 2008

Pinecone Opportunity- Guys and Households with Teens

I just got an email from Pinecone Research, one of the survey sites I like, increasing membership for guys over 18 and households with 13-17 year olds. The surveys are usually 15 minutes and ask about product use or concept products. I've made $3-5 per survey.

Usually the only way to get in is to find an add online. If you're interested leave a comment and I'll forward the info.

Worry and Tuition

I'm working from home this afternoon. This usually entails me on our couch typing reports with the TV on. The dvr'ed* show I was watching ended and all of a sudden I was listening to Dr. Phil. The remote went into hiding so I just started listening.

While he's not my favorite he said two things that I think is a key to overcoming financial issues. The couple in question spent a $100K inheritance in one year (including 5 cars and a picture book nursery) and are now largely in debt, living paycheck to paycheck. After some back and forth the husband kept repeating that he's just so worried about the money. Dr. Phil said that worry is useless. Instead the couple needs to sit down, possibly with their kids,** and create a plan. I would say that worry is a good starting point for the action. For me this is because realizing a problem usually precipitates worrying.

Then Dr. Phil brought up a new way of thinking about financial mistakes. Instead of dwelling on your money mistakes look at them as tuition for your financial education. Take what you learned from the negative experience and learn how to overcome it. This analogy can be stretched a bit further. We all paid different amounts to attain our levels of education. What we take away from schooling is all dependent on each person. The time spent studying, the connections made, and the courses we chose are just a few of the ways we each impacted our educational take away. In personal finance the same holds true. How much time we devote to learning about ways to save,*** connecting with others who share similar goals, and what we specifically learn about will shape our success at reaching our goals.


*I know this isn't a real word but what else works? I guess I could say recorded, but it's not quite the same.
**Which brings up an interesting question posed at Gather Little By Little.
***by both reducing spending and increasing the high interest piggy bank

Small Quarterly Update

This morning I started wondering how much I've paid towards my debt this year. To be honest when I updated my sidebars the other day I was a little bummed. So this morning I did a little math and learned something that made me really proud.

In the first 3 months this year $3339.29 has gone to my student and car loan companies. Of that, $2,039.65 was in overpayment. That makes me so excited I don't really konw what to say. It gives me the motivation to keep moving forward with my saving and spending plans, despite what the progress bars say.

Saturday, April 5, 2008

March Goal Review

Each month I'm trying to get a little better at saving money and paying things off. For the month I exceeded one goal, shifted two others, and failed on a fourth. It's not perfect, but I'll take it.

Groceries- 235.01. Another way of putting it would be significantly ($85.01) over budget. When I set the goal a made a few assumptions about my travel schedule for the month that had an opposite impact. Instead of spending less because I wasn't home for over a week I spent more because I didn't have time to plan grocery visits like I usually do. I gave myself an extra $25 for this month and am going to do my best to get grocery planning and shopping done around my trips.

Emergency fund- The goal was to get it up to $2000 by June. I got a nice sized check for my contract work and decided to throw it all at the emergency fund. I've since upped the emergency fund goal to $3000. The goal will be the end of the year.

Car loan- I wanted to do an additional $25/mth. Half way through the month I changed my direction on the car and student loans so TFS got an extra $425. From here on out this loan will be the beneficiary of my snowflakes.

Student loans- Since I've decided to shift towards paying off the car this goal is on hold. Before the change I paid 179.37 towards these loans.

Friday, April 4, 2008

April Goals

The trip this week was a bit crazy. It included an allergic reaction, a 4 am discussion with the front desk, being lost in a town the size of a postage stamp, and driving home in a snow storm. I have a general idea on what happened in March but haven't actually crunched the numbers. Instead I present the April Goals:
  • $400 in snowflakes
  • $175 for groceries
  • maintaining our newly revised cleaning schedule
  • contributing $100/pay period to my IRA account

The first three are pretty much self explanatory. So far this year I haven't been saving for retirement. Even though I'm working to pay down debt I think it's important to save for retirement. After going through 5 pay periods and three months of paying the bills I feel like I have a handle on where things are going. $100 a pay period isn't a lot, but will likely be scaled up once a few things with Gameboy get stabilized.

I've also decided that the snowflakes should go towards my car payments instead of the student loans. In the near future I'll post more in depth about this. The general idea I can pay off the car loan sooner and interest on my car loan isn't tax deductible.

The final change for April is a snowflake account. We have a few things going on and are saving up the money instead of making overpayments. Once everything is worked out the snowflake account will all get put towards the car. So instead of measuring what I paid off I'll be measuring the snowflakes I collect.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

On the Road Again

This week there was a change to my work schedule which means I'm leaving for a trip today instead of tomorrow. I'll post a few updates later today or tomorrow if I can get wireless at the hotel today.