As I recall, weren’t you having a hard time getting your partner to get onboard with the whole Dave Ramsey thing? I may be incorrect, but I’d thought she wasn’t as interested in getting debts paid down and then off. It sounds as if you’ve turned her around if you’ve convinced her to pay off that car loan. Congratulations if indeed I have my facts straight here!

I don’t post often, but I do read

I will say that I was feeling like my income was never going to increase. Each year, more and more of it was eaten up by increases in deductions due to things like increased cost of benefits, first retirement and now medical.

But, last fall, I started selling off much of my unwanted things. They are just small things mostly and it started very slowly. I am doing ebay and have now sold 124 items since then. I’ve made about 1200 from that. Not all of it is profit because there are expenses related to fees, but I keep about 85 percent of it.

I have made it a second job for me. Right now, I have 100 things listed and am selling about 30 a month. It is not going to make me rich, but it is extra income so that I can finally feel like I can make some good progress.

Then, this last month, I decided to participate in a local consignment sale called totswap. It is basically for kid’s items and so I listed many items that my children no longer needed, but that I felt were too bulky or might not sell on ebay. It was a one weekend sale, but my profit was $429 dollars. I got 65 percent of what they sold for. I did not sell about 20 out of my 177 items, but I am very happy. I will get that check in about a week and am already planning what to do with it.

I’ll add that I got my kids involved. I let them choose which toys to sell and then gave them the profit from those items. My kids made 15 dollars each from their unwanted toys. Given that they are in kindergarten and first grade, they were both quite excited by that kind of money (we don’t do allowance) and now they see the benefit of being frugal in this manner (we also shop with them at thrift shops for the same reason and just got my son a bike for 10 dollars, but that is another discussion).

My partner works for the federal government so she is looking at the furlough coming in June. We are actually working together to come up with ways to make it through the 14 decreased paychecks. For example, she used her tax refund to pay off her car loan so that is now 450 dollars less per month in bills. Between now and June, she is going to put that $450 in savings so that we can use it for bills once her income decreases. Because I work for the school system, she is the bigger income earner and always will be. I still make the same amount that I made when I started my job 8 years ago, but given the current economy, I am grateful to have a job.

And, this furlough of hers has started us talking more about money and working on getting through this together. We have had issues with this in the past so even though I am not happy to have less income coming in, we are benefiting by working together regarding money better than we every have.

Anyway, I am getting off topic, but my point is that you should look into some money making alternatives. Don’t get fooled by scams, but selling off unwanted items is a great way to bring in some extra cash.

In fact, last month, I went myself to another kid’s consignment sell looking for summer clothes for my own kids. Items that were boutique brands were selling for one to two dollars so I actually bought some of them to sell myself on ebay. I am now making this into a little bit of a buying and selling business and am excited to see how far I can take it to decrease the amount of time until I am debt free. My goal is to have the credit cards paid off by the end of December and I am still hoping to make it even with less income coming in from my partner.

It’s at $9300 right now

I have between $100-$200 for extra payments, or what was going to the EF. It’s difficult in a fixed income to find extra money, so this will probably not change any, any time soon.

I thought about possibly splitting it too. So that way I’m putting something toward the FFEF, but at that rate, it will be long time. I’m sure when the van is paid off, I’ll be very glad I took that route though!

And I’ve recently upped my giving so I’m hoping that God sustains us throughout..and I’m working to trust Him more, no matter what happens!

Yes, you should go back to baby step 2 to get the van paid off

However, i don’t think you should use $500 of the $1500 you have to pay off the van. I think Stilwell is off when he says to have only have a $1000 ER fund. Where I live, $1000 doesn’t go far in emergencies. Most auto repairs and other things like that end up costing a lot. Then add sales tax to it, and the fund is wiped out. Personally, we have $1500 for our ER fund.
In his book, he does say that when you get to step 3 he says whether you have 3 months savings or 6 months (or somewhere in between) should depend on your lifestyle and comfort level (paraphrasing here). So following that advice we pad our ER fund.
So, even though it doesn’t follow what Stilwell says, I would keep the $1500 in the ER fund and then go back to step 2 till the van is paid off.

YES! If you went back into debt, you start over

$1000 BEF, then the debt snowball. So throw the extra $500 at the van, and get it paid off as quickly as possible. I’m considering ‘yelling’ at you for financing a van because ‘I had to’ is a convenient excuse. That’s the same excuse that keeps most people in debt for life. But in most cases it’s a lie, and there could have been another way to do things.
Not saying that’s what happened in your case, but others have avoided going back into debt after they’ve gotten out…

I promised I would be more active on here..

this is NOT DR related but hey, its all I got for now! Once in awhile we get hit with what we call the plagues of Egypt. By this we mean that we are hit with multiple difficulties at one time. My husband flew to L.A. for business for 3 days and my children from hard places were terrified he would not come back, that he would die, etc. Plus my youngest girls birthday is tomorrow and that makes a nasty brew for these kiddos….they act out like crazy because of their fear levels. Add in me still going through this blasted miscarriage (can we say frustrating…its been 4+ weeks), the two littlest have croup and my eye is hurting like its either a sty or a pink eye, hubster now has really bad jet lag, etc…see what I mean? Lots on our plate that all falls at once. But these are passing and fleeting and we’re so glad that the plagues do eventually abate.

We have issues with this too

Our budget is between $300 to $500 a month depending on what yearly bills are due that month. We live in Southern Cali where we are a family of 6 with 2 very big male eaters (DH is 6’4 and 270) 4 cats and 3 dogs. Also one in diapers so we use cloth diapers which saves a ton and is so easy to use.
I use coupons, loss leaders, clearance racks and try to make as much from scratch as I can that I cannot get cheaper with coupons. It always seems to be a balancing game. I had been sick the last few years ending in 2 surgeries last July. I am getting my strength back so we are back to growing some of our food. Just planted some carrots today.
I know people call those that use a lot of coupons and store a lot hoarders but it really makes a big difference when you do not have to worry if the kids will be able to eat. When there are great coupons I try to get as many as I can and stockpile all I can. Last couple of months there was a $1 off 1 Progresso soup coupon. I have about 60 cans ranging from zero to .28 each. We tend not to eat a lot of canned soup so that could last us a year. Also Walmart gives overages on coupons so when it is a coupon where the item is priced less then the coupon I shop there. Birdeye recipe ready is a good example. They range from $1 to $1.99 but there are coupons $1.50 on 1 and $1 on 1 so a lot of free and very cheap veggies for the freezer

Your story about Valentines gifts reminded me of what we did this year

The last 2-3 weeks have been crazy around here. dh went on a trip with some men from church that was planned several months ago, left on 2/6 and got home 2/9. They went to Atlanta for a men’s conference. It’s a long story but he had to leave less than 24 hours later to be with his dad while having surgery to help him recover from a burn injury. Originally the surgery was supposed to be Wednesday, 2/12 and dh was going to go up on 2/11. Then we got a call it was on 2/11. So dh packed a quick bag on 2/10 and left. On the way up dh got a call that it was 2/12 after all. He went on up and spent a little extra time with his dad. The hospital is about 5+ hours from us. I figured Valentines would be bypassed for us this year. I was dealing with a toe issue and had to go to the doctor and was dealing with some short term depression, anxiety and stress over several things (kind of like a Seasonal Affective Disorder type thing) … our weather had had been overcast/rainy for days on end which did not help. Anyway, dh got home on Thursday, 2/13. That evening he showed me something he had gotten dd for valentine’s day. I thought to myself that it was nice of him to do that, figuring WE were forgoing the holiday. Then he says he has something for me too!

At this point, I had not even thought about valentine’s gifts. I felt really bad. However on Friday I went to Hobby Lobby with a friend. I saw a picture, rather large actually, of old cars. dh loves old cars! My friend said, “John would LOVE that!” at the exact time I was thinking it. It was on sale for 50% off which put it in my budget. When I saw it, before knowing the price, I thought, “how can I NOT get that for John?” LOL I was so glad it was ½ off because I would have fretted over getting it at regular price.

Anyway, on Valentine’s evening when dh got home I gave his picture to him and he loved it. I got dd a dvd of a movie she’d been wanting and we all watched it after supper. It turned out to be a wonderful day after all.

You can create a “savings” account and call it electricity or utilities

Have a “transfer” set up and move the money out of checking into savings and when the bill is due, “move” the money out of the savings account. It doesn’t have to be a real account as long as you are deducting the money from your main checking account.

There’s the portion of the software that shows your bank transactions

and those are going to be exactly what the bank sends to Quicken. So if the bank has a single savings account with a lump sum in it, that’s exactly what it’s going to send to Quicken and that’s what you’ll see in the register. Having said that, there are other sections of Quicken which allow you to set up spending budgets, spending histories, and set/track goals. Given what you’ve said, I think exploring those other sections would be worthwhile. In previous editions of Quicken the budgeting section allowed you to do most of what you’re talking about, but in Quicken 2013 some of those options changed. I don’t know if Quicken 2014 restored those options, changed them again, or kept everything the same. But try to think of Quicken as serving two different purposes – a ledger to record what actually happened, and a planning tool to figure out what to do in the future. Those two sections don’t always talk to each other but you can usually figure out how to accomplish your goals in either one or the other.

I am using Quicken Deluxe 2015

I have our income entered and have figured out how to include or exclude certain categories.

The questions I have is that I have a “Master” budget in excel that I would start the month out with.

Example. I like to budget $150.00 each month for Electricity. Does not always run that amount, but at one time, it did and I would rather have excess to apply to our goal that month, then to need to pull money from our goal.

I make monthly transfers into sinking funds in our savings account. Is there a way track those sinking funds balances. I have 4 sinking funds that make up our savings account balance. I make one transfer per month for the total that I would like to put in those 4 sinking funds.

Is there a way to do this in quicken?

Like most of the nation this last few weeks

we have been having extreme cold weather and what is considered a lot of snow for ne OK. I have spent the time working hard in the office and other hot spots of the house trying to reduce our clutter even more than we already have. Made great headway because who wants to go outside when it is bitter cold.

However, by the time dh took vacation time Thursday and Friday to use it before he loses it the weather in typical Oklahoma fashion started to turn. I believe it hit 70 yesterday. Cabin fever set in quickly on us. The sun was shining, the air was warm, although the wind made it too risky to burn trash or brush. So we had us a grand 4 day weekend.

Thursday dh and I were “lazy” around the house, doing research, opening the curtains to let the sunshine in, minor household tidy up and a little firewood cutting.

Friday was Valentine’s Day and we celebrated by taking Jellybean back to the vet to get his stitches out. He was one happy kitty to get those gone and get back home to his breakfast. Once we dropped him off back at the house we went out and spent money from best online payday GSHloans in true DR fashion. Meaning getting what we needed/wanted for as little as possible.

Our family back-up drive that we store EVERYTHING on got fried during the winter storms and dh wanted to get everything backed up again on a new drive before we had a major computer malfunction or something. So being the tightwads we are we grabbed up our cash back certificates from recycling ink cartridges, a $10 off coupon we had from Staples and with sale ad brought up on our phone when to Staples. We originally thought about getting a 1 terrabyte, but we couldn’t use the $10 off coupon on it, where if we went with the 2 terrabyte we would have twice the storage capacity—and yes we do store that much stuff around here—for $14 more and use the $10 coupon. So we opted for the 2 terrabyte. We were glad we did because guess what, they were out of it. But the store manager offered us a much higher valued (both in price and by dh’s preferences) 2 terrabyte with a 1 year longer warranty than the one we were looking at for the same price as the cheaper on sale one. So we came home with a better piece of equipment with twice the storage at far less than the original on sale price of the one we went after. I told dh Happy Valentine’s Day.

Then he said, “I know of a sale you don’t.” and took me to Michael’s where the cartridges I use for my cricut machine were on ½ price. He handed me cash and said “ Happy Valentine’s Day pick out what you want.” He had been saving blow money to do just such a surprise. I got 4 cartridges and am tickled silly.

Ds met us for a coupon using lunch, then we did grocery shopping (read on sale and with coupons) and headed home. Once home it was still daylight and warm, so we worked outside just a wee bit to do some minor firewood pick-up.

Saturday I spent pretty much inside out of the wind—I hate wind–and finished off one large storage bin of paperwork, culling enough paperwork out of it that what remained fits easily in 2 gallon Ziplocs while it waits to be scanned and stored. The guys cut and stacked firewood.

During rest breaks we did list making for the trips we are hoping to take this year. Yes I said trips, as in more than one.

Sunday we couldn’t take it any more and started working on the camper to prep it for the first trip in it sometime next month to do a combo celebration trip. The combo is demise of so many bills last year, unfortunately not all of them yet, our 41st wedding anniversary—since we didn’t get to do anything deeply special for our 40th, and getting our first ss checks. The trip will basically cost us just the fuel and maybe a couple of night’s camping fees and we all know I camp on the super cheap. Season passes for Silver Dollar City were part of our Christmas gifts to each other. They of course were purchased in the pre-season discount period and as senior passes so we got them near ½ price before it was all said and done. We also got several free passes due to our pre-season purchase to share with ds so he can go with us if he wants, or we may take dbil and his wife again. We’ve not done anything with them in a while. If her health will allow.

One small Murphy problem that I am fixing today did happen recently and we only discovered it yesterday. Ds pays the feed bill every other time since half of the animals are his. When he bought feed earlier this month he mentioned it was higher than it had been all winter. I thought he meant it had gone up slightly, a very common occurrence this time of year where critter feed is concerned, especially with the weather we’ve been having.

So when we had our monthly budget meeting yesterday I asked him how much the feed went up. DOUBLED!!! What? He said the feed bill had almost doubled for the same amount and brand of feed. I asked if he was certain. So I called the store to see what the current price was because I needed to make some huge decisions budget wise if that was going to be the normal price. Yes, I did call on Sunday. The family that runs the feed store are Seventh Day Adventists and are closed on Saturday, but are open on Sunday’s. I love them being open on Sunday’s it works so much better with our schedule then having to rush around on Saturday’s to get feed. Plus they have a much better quality feed for general $2-$5 per bag cheaper than the other local feed stores.

Jennifer told me their price was still the same price. So I asked ds to get the receipt and let’s see why it was doubled. Ummm, someone can’t do math. The receipt read “300 # @ $21 per 100# bal due $123.” By the time he found the receipt they were closed. I’ll be calling them again in a few minutes to give them the receipt number so they can see the error for themselves. This is a very nice honest family and the way we figure it ds has $60 coming back. The Millie Moment, aka: miracle, is ds had the receipt!

Dh went back to work today—drats, I sure wish he was already retired, and immediately put in for vacation time for that trip. In the meantime I will be spending much of today outside in 70+ temps prepping the camper some more.

What I do is keep track of what I spend in every month

Last year was my first year in doing so….

Then, this year—I budget the amount I spent in the month last year….and then I try to beat it.

For example—last January was my high amount at $665…. This year in January–I spent $563..

February last year –I spent $458

Right now, I sit at $257 for the month so far…and am doing pretty well this month–so should beat last year’s February.

Money saving ideas:

1. have a food challenge month—where you only buy the items you absolutely need to supplement what you already have.

2. focus on the sale items each time you go shopping….if really low on something–try to buy extras to tide you to the next sale.

3. make budget meals–meals that are low cost, yet filling.

4. prepare foods yourself–buying processed foods cost more

5. make snack foods for the kids…. at this growing stage…if they wait until meals to eat—they will pack in the food….some ideas: banana bread, homemade pizza pockets, popcorn (can bag in sandwich bags for grab and snack convenience)

I know this is going to sound like

I am tooting my own horn, but you asked so I’ll answer. I work HARD at our food budget. We are three adults and the two guys are meat and tater type fellows with big appetites. So I buy in bulk, use coupons when it works well for us, plant a small veggie garden when we aren’t traveling and COOK FROM SCRATCH, when I can’t buy ready made cheaper.

Here comes the horn part. Read my blog. I offer up several inexpensive meal ideas that are filling, easy and fast to make and you can do in bulk. Then if you see a recipe mentioned you’d like to try and it is in a different color it has a hyperlink to take you to the recipe. I’m back to blogging a LOT now so there will lots of additions to it soon.

Back in the 70’s and 80’s I was an extreme couponer, but with just the three of us I find making my own mixes, bulk cooking and bulk purchasing work better for us.

We do that too

separate out restaurant eating from groceries. I also separate out food from health & beauty, cleaning supplies, paper products, etc. I get groceries at the grocery store, none from Walmart. I get the other stuff mentioned at Walmart

All this separation may seem like work but it helps me see what we are truly spending on each category. Basically I have a groceries category and a Wal-Mart category so it is not really hard.

Food is tough!

I’m with Eldred , almost. I would say start with $750, or maybe $725, and then try to beat it.

Also if you haven’t already I would separate groceries from takeout and restaurants. It’s easier for me to see what the tradeoffs are if I keep those separate.

I have a teenager too and even though she’s a small girl, she can really eat!

It helps me a bit to understand why the big bills are big. Am I stocking up on staples because of a big sale or have I gone overboard with junk food and prepared food? I also bought some food specifically for our teen guests to keep in the basement – large bulk boxes of soda cans and the large size of ice cream (my daughter and I are happy eating single-serve ice creams but a gang of teenagers will plow right through those!)

So that is food alone and NOT other stuff like cleaning supplies, toilet paper, etc?

Just clarifying is all. We have a small family but the cost of food has been going up for us too. I can fill a buggy, have NO meat in my buggy and it easily cost $100! We do not buy a lot of prepared items like frozen lasagna, etc. or boxed stuff. We do like a boxed mac and cheese but I am going to try a scratch recipe when I use up what I have.

On a weekly basis we are buying the following for smoothies:
1 jug fusion v8
several bags of different frozen fruit
fresh bananas
a couple of quarts of yogurt
a bag of almonds
fresh local honey

These ingredients add considerably (to me) to our grocery bill. However, we are making smoothies every morning and it usually makes enough for breakfast and lunch. Dh does his and I do mine. I like the idea of getting “real” food that is not over processed. I don’t know what your kids are eating but maybe some thing like this will help them feel more filled up. You could add a protein powder to help them get that filled feeling for longer.

Our grocery store will have 10 for $10 on some items. You don’t have to buy 10 to get the deal. Recently I bought up a bunch of pasta because we have gotten on a spaghetti kick. I also bought several packs of the small shell pasta for a chicken dish I like. It will also work with homemade mac and cheese. Look for these type offers for things you already eat.

I am only buying meat when it goes on sale. It is too expensive not to do it that way. I have been holding off on getting some ground beef the last few weeks because of this. Besides we have plenty of chicken, some pork chops, and a couple of roasts in the freezer, besides a box of Omaha Steak products a salesman sent us around Christmas.

You might try offering stuff that is filling but cheap for meals … rice and gravy, mashed potatoes and gravy using fresh potatoes not flakes, etc. Rice is used a LOT in south Louisiana and it can be used with so many things as a side. You can cook a lot of it for almost nothing. Cooking basic but flavorful foods from scratch is usually the lease expensive way to go. Try to have leftovers for them to eat on when they get in from school. Hard, I know, with boys to have leftovers for the next day.

Try to avoid expensive snacks like chips and dip, soft drinks, prepackaged cookies, etc. Cookies and cakes are okay but try to make them yourself so they are less expensive. When you bake them you know what is going into them and can try to make them healthier.

I heard the other day that we prepare healthy snacks at the beginning of the week to have on hand that we are more likely to make a healthier choice. They gave examples of cutting up fresh veggies, boiling a dozen eggs at once, etc. to keep in the fridge to grab when hungry and/or in a hurry. How about peanut butter on celery, or crackers or pbj sandwiches?

Hey, I said my family is small and I am stretching to come up with something! LOL Hope that helps.

Food budget question

Out of all the budget’s I make, our food budget is always the hardest. I put money away for it every two weeks but I never seem to get it right. And most of the time I am short. I have two boys ages 14 and 11 who eat almost non stop when they are home. Does anyone have any pointers to share with me (besides adding more to that budget) on how to get this right?

I’ve been keeping track of how much I spend each month on food for a couple of years now. And each month it runs anywhere from $450 to $750 a month.