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Archive for January, 2010

Pat on my back! My grocery list PLUS menu

January 16th, 2010 at 12:09 am

Due to some unusual expenses (personal property taxes, higher than usual power bill etc..) I decide to turbo-grocery budget this week! Rick is out of town so the grocery list & budget are average, but I think we did pretty good!

I shopped at Kroger, and pretty much went generic (I didn't have any good coupons anyway). Just about everything was either generic or on sale. Here's what I got:

Kr. bagels - $1.00
Kr. frozen veges - $1.00
Bananas (1.64 lbs) - $0.80
Kr. cream cheese - $1.00
Navel Oranges (2) - $2.00
Romaine Lettuce - $1.49
Cucumber - $0.83
Kr. apple juice (frozen) - $1.39
10 lb bag of potatos - $1.99
Kr. hot dogs - $0.89
Kr. shredded cheddar cs - $1.50
Kr. bologna - $0.89
Kr. wheat bread - $1.00
Kr. french bread - $1.00
Kr. hot dog buns - $1.00
Kr. crackers - $1.22
Kr. popcorn - $1.19
Kr. baked beans - $1.00
Kr. chicken noodle soup (2) - $1.09
Kr. frozen pot pies (2) - $1.16

Grand Total (with tax): $24.16

We did have some things already in the pantry & freezer. Here's what we made to eat all week:

DINNERS:

- hot dogs, baked beans & corn
- chicken pot pie with fruit
- grilled cheese w/chicken noodle soup
pancakes & fruit
- pasta with spag. sauce & garlic bread (I already had the pasta & sauce)
- baked potato & salad
- grilled chicken breast with pasta & salad (already had 2 frozen chicken bst)
- salisbury "steak" (frozen turkey burgers) with mashed potatoes, garlic bread & salad

LUNCHES & SNACKS

- leftovers, pb & j sand., bologna sand., popcorn, crackers, cut up veges, fruit, popcorn, bagel w/cream cheese

BREAKFAST

- grits (already had those), pancakes, french toast, certeal (already had 1/2 box of cheerios), bagel.

OK health police, don't come after me! Yes, I bought hot dogs and bologna, but my kids are in love with that crap, and when I can afford it I buy the turkey, healthy kind. But on "lean" weeks like these, they got what was cheapest. Otherwise though, I had plenty of salad, veges & fruit to go around.

I pat myself on the back...I did really good this week. Good savings to all, and to all a good night!

Thanks Heaven for Little Caesars

January 12th, 2010 at 11:33 pm

Holy Moly, how do they stay in business?? I got a coupon in the mail for a free 8 pc crazy bread and crazy sauce, with the purchase of any pizza. Considering you can get a hot & ready pizza for $5.55...I'm seeing an entire meal for the me & the kids this weekend if we decide we HAVE to splurge.

I just had to give a shout out to the little Roman man down the street...thank you Little Caesars.

The Next Coupon Mom?

January 12th, 2010 at 11:28 pm

Ok, so I saw "The Coupon Mom" on TV twice last week, on "The Doctors" and "The Dave Ramsey Show". I love a good deal so I decided to check out her website and see what it's all about. Has anyone else checked it out?

I'm usually not a big brand person, I go with the generics unless I REALLY notice a difference. Plus, the idea of cutting coupons and comparing them week-after-week with the sale ads, just seemed like too much. I'm a working mama, I really don't want to go to 5 different stores every week to scour for deals!

But after watching her save like 50% on TV, I went to the website to see how it works. What's cool is that the website keeps track of the weekly ads and what current/recent coupons (either printed online or found in the newspaper), and what the final price is. I usually shop at Kroger (or Walmart), so I was pretty excited to see the deals, as Kroger doubles coupons. Some stuff is like, 60% off! I just signed up a few days ago (it's free) so I haven't really tested it yet during a shopping trip.

I can definitely say that if something's cheaper generic, I will go that route. And I won't buy something I normally wouldn't just because it's a good deal. But if I can get a sweet deal on something I could really use,I will. Too bad there aren't coupons for fruits & veges...

Potato Butts

January 8th, 2010 at 02:16 am

My husband Rick and I are complete foodies. As terrible as it may sound, one of the hardest things about debt-busting is dealing with our grocery budget. I love to cook and going to restaurants used to be our past-time. There are people like my dad, who can eat the same sub sandwich & spagetti nearly every day... but I have never been like that!

We are in week 3 of a "real" grocery budget, and every day it seems like I am tweaking it. I actually don't know certain things like, how often do we go through a carton of milk? How many diapers does our youngest use in a month? I quickly started at a $150/week budget, but I realized it should be lower for a family of 4. But I'm not gonna lie...it's hard to menu plan and not order pizza after a busy day at work!

I'm sure I will post many entries on this subject. I'm pretty proud of myself tonight. After a tiring day at work, I was not at all in the mood to cook, but I got in the kitchen and made somewhat boring, but cheap, grilled cheese sandwiches. Rick made homemade french fries (baked, not fried) that were really tasty. Yes, it took some time, but it was so much healthier and cheaper than fast food fries. Yay for us! If you're wondering why I named this entry "potato butts", it's because that's what Rick calls the last slice of the potato, with the most skin on it. That slice makes the perfect kind of fry, yum.

I will post next week's grocery budget & list, after everything is bought and I can account for the cost. It will be a little lower since Rick will be out of town, but I'd still love to get any input on this subject!

Would Dave approve???

January 7th, 2010 at 02:51 am

Yes, I mean Dave Ramsey. If you're reading blogs about debt I'm going to assume you may have already heard of him. But for those who have not, Dave Ramsey is a financial author, tv host (his show is on Fox Business News channel) and motivational speaker of sorts.

Ok before you judge me too much, it's not a cult or some fad. I get it, he's an entertaining TV personality. However, as I've mentionned before, I have spent months researching debt reduction strategies, I've read every blog, watched every personal finance show on TV. What I like about him is that he went through financial ruin and came out alive. He knows what he speaks!

Dave's approach is mostly common sense, with some direction and strategy put to it. He doesn't believe in credit cards AT ALL and he gives a good, do-able approach to getting rid of the debt.

So hubby & I are taking his approach in our journey. Before getting our emergency savings started, or saving for a home, or retirement, we are getting rid of the debt first. It's not wrong to do all the above at once, but I agree with Dave in that if you try to spread your efforts around, the results maybe be weaker. When I look at the interest rate I'm paying for these dang credit cards...I don't want to spend a minute longer than I have to paying for them! What's the point of saving for retirement (at say, an estimated annual 8% stock market return), when I'm paying minimum payments on credit cards with a 22.99% interest rate? I'm still losing money.

Check out the "Credit Card Interest Calculator" at www.consumercredit.com. All you need is the basic info from your credit card statement (balance, APR, minimum payment amount). Plug in and voila! It gives you the staggering news of how long you will be paying that credit card and how much in interest you will pay. It's a sobering exercise.

Breaking Cycles

January 7th, 2010 at 02:50 am

I feel it necessary to expound a little of my husband's & my family background, so you'll know a little about how our money habits formed.

When I was growing up my parents were the epitomy of the financially saavy. My dad was the sole bread-winner and worked for the same company for almost 35 years (it's pretty much unheard of these days). He never had a car payment & saved regularly. My parents were fairly frugal but saved for what they wanted- they lived within their means! I would get an allowance growing up and worked summers every year. But when I got out on my own, I didn't really understand interest from credit cards, how mortgages work, or how important credit scores were. I couldn't fault my parents for not explaining car loans...they had never had one! Good for them...but a little bad for me. I think I was naive when I set off to college & started getting tons of attractive credit card offers!

My dear husband...his family was a little on the opposite spectrum. His parents had credit cards and car loans, but they worked really hard to pay for everything. They spend a lot of money on their kids, because that was their way of showing love. When his mom was laid off from her prestigous job they ended up in financial ruin, with no savings, nothing. Hubby grew up without being taught much about personal finance either. He moved out on his own after high school, but like me, didn't know much about retirement, savings etc....

This post isn't a blame game! Hey, we're parents and none of us are perfect! As a parent, it's hard to teach your kids something you may not fully understand yourself. Or maybe you just assume your kids "know" that it's good to save $. Or sometimes if you've made a mistake, it's just plain embarrassing to explain it to your kids of all people.

If I can get on my soap box for a minute, I can't think of anything more important to learn in school than personal finance. I look back on those 4 years of French classes that I took and think hmm....if that had been a Money 101 class...would the last 10 years have been different?

Nickle and Diming

January 7th, 2010 at 02:49 am

I know, how can nickles and dimes amount to a lot of debt? I don't know how, I just know it does. Hubby and I have no really expensive hobbies or vices, no smoking, no drinking, we don't really collect anything. Geez, we don't even travel! We should have debt from amazing adventures, but sadly not.... We have almost $20,000 of credit card debt from "stuff". Granted, a bunch of it is for hubby's small business-related expenses, but much of is just the pissings of family togetherness.

Mexican restaurants, lattes, energy drinks, snacks for the school parties, gas, groceries, blah, blah. All things that we should have BUDGETED for but never did. When you swipe the 'ol plastic devil, you've sold your soul to him. Everytime we'd think, oh it's only a couple dollars, or, I deserve it- I worked really hard this week! It's so easy to rationalize things.

For a good period of time last year, our job situations were changing and in peril. Depression & anxiety were an every day occurrance. As immature as it was, we got a case of the "f*** its". When you don't know where the next paycheck is coming from, you start to think, who cares what I buy now, I'll never get out of this debt! We were the loudest guests at our own self-pity party.

You paid WHAT for that car?

January 7th, 2010 at 02:48 am

Now begins the embarrassing disclosure of who my creditors are and what I owe them for. I'd love to say that all of my debt is from student loans because hey, who can blame a girl for wanting an education. But no, sadly NONE of it is from student loans. My financially savy parents paid for my college education (Note to self: write Congress and tell them that FINANCIAL education should be a regular part of high school and colleges).

About 1/2 of my debt is for 2 car loans. Get this- for any of you feeling down on your financial pitfalls, this next tidbit should make you feel a financial God. Two years ago my husband & I traded in 2 cars for ONE car, creating a mountain of negative equity and a lovely monthly payment of about $461. Wow, you must be thinking, that woman must be driving a hell of cool ride. No, it's a 2007 Dodge Caravan. That I bought for $30,000. That should have been bought for like $15,000, except for that little thing called negative equity.

I still look back on that and think....what in the heck!!??? I had 2 cars before that I couldn't afford the payments on, so I traded it in for the one car, which resulted in 1 payment, lower than 2 separate ones. And at 0% interest...that may be the only silver lining.

We've been paying on it for about 2 years and still owe $18,000. Why don't we sell it you ask? God bless, I wish I could. It's only worth about $6,000 right now. Oh yes, hubby and I have learned the extreme hard way, that cars loans are MUCH easier to get into, than to get out of. I'd take a beater car in day of the week....

Oh yeah, my husband has a little pick up truck that we owe about $4,000 on. It can't fit the whole family in it, and it's a stickshift which can be a pain in the rear when you're in traffic...but the story behind that is for another day.

Onward and upward, there's no way out of this loan, so it's a part of my debt and I will drive the car until it dies.

And how it all began....

January 7th, 2010 at 02:47 am

I don't know if this blog will see many eyes, but if nothing else I want to journal my family's experience of getting out of debt. We're the typical suburban family- we have 2 kids, we both work, and we've accumulated a lot of debt, without much to show for it.

My husband and I are in our early 30's. We've been married for a little over 10 years, and amazingly enough in that time, never developed a good financial plan or "budget". Over this time we've had all sorts of changes...one of us working, both of us working, working commission-only jobs, any scenerio you name it. A few years ago we were doing really well by all accounts. We would buy a small house, live in it, renovate it, and flip it. We'd put all the money we made from it into...another house! A few years ago we put money into a house that was potentially a great flip, but it was sort of large, "sort" of beyond our means, and definitely a money pit. Fast forward 2 years- we lost money on the flip (ahhh....didn't we all love the bubble of 2008?), we moved into a small rental home, and we're faced with $45,000 of debt.

I will be blogging for fun, for accountibility, and for, well, inspiration for anyone else in this situation who stumbles upon my little story.