Archive for April, 2013

This question was posed to me last Friday after I posted our budget for the week and I wanted to lay  it all out simply – first though we need to back track on how I come up with some of our numbers:

Simple – I tracked our spending over the course of a year, yes a YEAR everyone! I notated where each dime went and quarterly I took those numbers and averaged them out to come up with what would be allocated for each item weekly – namely the grocery and gas budget figures.  These two items in actual amounts fluctuate each week based on how much we need and the meals we choose – but for the most part we come in somewhere around the $170.00 figure I set aside each week.  This number has grown from the $100 we used to spend each week roughly 12 years ago, increasing to $125/week for awhile, then up to $130 for another few years, growing eventually to upwards of $150 then landing at the $170 figure i use now.  This might change again in a years time if I find we’re spending more than our budget each week.

For gas though, as we all know the cost of gas can swing greatly day to day, nevermind week to week, thus the reason we came up with the averaging across numbers.  I maintain the total size of my tank and figure roughly how much it’s going to cost to fill it – right now I have a  13-Gallon tank in our Focus and gas prices have been floating around $3.50 – $3.79/gallon recently, so therefore it’s best to budget up to $40.00 for a full tank fill.  If I come in under budget WOOHOO!! Rarely do we go over budget as I won’t allow the tank to get less than 1/4 full before racing to the gas station!

Ok that done now, I then developed a spreadsheet, as you’ve seen posted. First things first is to pull in our incoming salaries – this I pull obviously directly from our checks as they are direct-deposit each Friday:

 $572.95 Lara W/E 04/07/13 Salary
 $324.48 Jimmy W/E 04/07/13 Salary
 $897.43

The $897.43 is the sum total of both checks

I then figure out how much we spent on non budgeted items the week before – these are spur of the moment Debit card transactions from our bank account that weren’t accounted for in the budget:

 $13.33 Target
 $8.53 Wal-Mart
 $1.29 Amazon.com
 $10.20 Office Max
 $7.24 Tommy’s
 $8.12 Target
 $5.14 KTC Total
 $1.07 McDonalds
 $54.92

The $54.92 is the total amount spent from our checking account for the week – last week I put $10.00 back into our account from the KTC (Keep the Change) account because we were on the edge of Overdraft.

Next – I take what was left over from the week prior’s budget figures and deduct the amount spent, in this case it’s $44.92 and come up with what’s left in our checking/budget before we’re paid:

 $61.08 Remaining from W/E 04/21/13
 $44.62 Amt. Spent
 $16.46 Avail. Starting

In this case there was a discrepancy between the budget left over $44.92 and what was actually in checking remaining, $44.62 so I accounted for that $0.30 in our check register, leaving just $16.46 before we were paid on Friday.

Next, I take the left over dollar figure amount and add it into our paycheck total:

 $16.46 Avail. Starting
 $897.43 Total Pay
 $913.89 Avail. For Bills

And that is how I come up with what we start with each week to do the budget, this is obviously double-checked against the bank account – as this means ZIP if it doesn’t first match the checking account.

The means of actually doing the budget is taking what you have to start, $913.89 and line by line subtracting the bills, grocery money, gas money, and other budget items to come up with the final left over amount each week.  Bi-Weekly for us that dollar amount is very small, but on the bi-weeks like we’re in right now it’s several hundred dollars that is rolled over into the bill pay week to pay our bills.

Before actually starting my weekly budget though, I sit down and manually balance our checkbook – yes it’s a paper/pen process as I’ve used Quicken in the past and it gets all jumbled and is generally incorrect – this way I can micro-manage the bank account.

Now tracking our bills is another post for tomorrow! But a preview here is that I use a paper and pen calendar 😉

For other budget tips, please also visit the Simply Money Blog – I have found some of their tips useful as well!

Well we had a Red Letter day in our house yesterday – for the first time in FIVE, yes everyone FIVE years, my husband and I have enrolled with my hub’s companies benefits program – Health, Dental, and Eye Benefits! We are thrilled to say the very least…when my hubby was fired from his previous job we not only lost 80% of our income but we also lost those oh so precious benefits…the lack of these benefits had become a point of contention with me.  Why? Well, for starters waking up with a sinus infection with no means of getting the much needed antibiotics is one thing – second was what would we do should my husband’s heart condition have become an issue?? Well that what if was put to the test two years ago almost when he had a vein rupture in his leg (most likely due to a blood clot, how one gets one when they are on blood thinners escapes me) and begin bleeding out – he spent four days in the hospital with CT Scans, MRI’s, the works – our total bills were once again somewhere in the 6-Figures…thankfully the hospital was able to get us on temporary Medicaid benefits to cover the cost, but those were only good for 6-Months – after that it was up to us to re-apply.  And Re-apply we did only to be told that we made too much money to qualify, um WHAT?!  So we went without…for many many years…and now we finally have them again! Relief is just awash at the moment…

Don’t get me wrong, these benefits aren’t FREE – nope they are coming out of his paycheck each week – and if my math is correct we’re looking at about $72.00/wk from his pay – so we take his $9.75/hr multiply that by anything ranging from 37.0 hrs./week ($312.00 – $72.00 = $240.00) to 39.0 hrs./week ($380.25-$72.00 = $308.25) less the $72.00 and taxes he’ll be working his rear off each week for about $200.00/Week…OUCH! I feel for him I do.  We deliberated for Weeks to decide if it would be work the extra hours and cost of sending the kiddos to be Brigades, so this came with much more deliberation and debate…all in all if my math is correct we’ll be down ROUGHLY $30.00 – $35.00 each Week, in that he’ll be bringing home about $30.00  – $35.00 less per week than he is currently, because as we all know Benefits are pre-tax dollars that lower your taxable income, which really isn’t that bad. I am still not 100% sure how I feel about it, but we’ll have to wait and see what happens after the paychecks actually start showing up, the first one will be this Friday.

On a secondary note – I am seriously kicking myself in the arse…we went over budget on our Grocery budget  by $30.00, spending $200.00 vs. the $170.00 I budgeted on Friday – which means that we had to use the cash allocated for gas for groceries and them make the Debit withdrawal from the bank account for Gas, roughly $29.00.  And, on top of that I meant to also budget for Checks as we’re running low, so that was another purchase of about $28.00 I forgot about – ugh seriously kicking myself in the arse here!  So now we’re down that $52.00 starting the week off…OUCH!

Oh and of course, once the weekend is done and finished do we discover our daughters sneakers are not only too small but have holes in them…goody…we’ll be shoe shopping this weekend…in the meantime she’ll wear her slip ons she seems to prefer…

That’s all for now, until Budget Time Ya’ll!!!

Here we go again, it’s Friday and because we have a very busy weekend ahead of us, I opted to do the checkbook/budget/pay bills etc. during my lunch hour at work today…there’s not much to report in our world financially today – Jimmy’s off this weekend, so I am sure we’ll be getting into something, what is yet to be seen, as it depends largely on the weather.  If it’s nice we’ll head to the beach if it’s not we’ll go shoot pool or something else indoorsy.

Our mortgage restructure is still in process – got an email yesterday from Citi stating it was with the underwriters for final decision – yet when they called the other day they told me it was just with the underwriters, nothing saying it was in the final stages of completion…again that lack of communication is (utterly) frustrating.

I am making good headway with our cash savings, and this makes me very very happy, between the two spots I am stashing cash we’re just under $100.00 on hand, which for us is a LOT of money, so I am going to keep building that in hopes that we eventually have enough where I feel comfortable dumping it into an interest bearing savings account – that research to be done at a much later date as we’re no where near that quite yet.

That being said, here’s this weeks budget – hope it doesn’t depress you as much as it does me 😉

 $61.08 Remaining from W/E 04/21/13  $572.95 Lara W/E 04/14/13 Salary
 $44.62 Amt. Spent  $324.48 Jimmy W/E 04/14/13 Salary
 $16.46 Avail. Starting  $897.43
 $13.33 Target  $16.46 Avail. Starting
 $8.53 Wal-Mart  $897.43 Total Pay
 $1.29 Amazon.com  $913.89 Avail. For Bills
 $10.20 Office Max
 $7.24 Tommy’s
 $8.12 Target
 $5.14 KTC Total
 $1.07 McDonalds
 $54.92

Now this week is a bi-week, meaning there’s no bills being paid other than AT&T and that’s because I didn’t want to try and lump it in with the bills being paid next week – that and the due date is before I’d be able to get it to them before shut-off and I need our Phone/Internet to work at home right now…

 $913.89
 $20.00 DB Plumbing
 $893.89
 $70.00 Brigades Boys & Girls Club
 $823.89
 $5.00 OT Solutions
 $818.89
 $17.00 Savings for Car
 $801.89
 $5.00 CCA, 04/29 Auto-Draft
 $796.89
 $5.00 LCA, 05/01 Auto-Draft
 $791.89
 $170.00 Groceries
 $621.89
 $40.00 Gas
 $581.89
 $35.00 Dinner, 04/26/13
 $546.89
 $25.00 Jimmy’s Money
 $521.89
 $121.00 AT&T
 $400.89
 $25.00 Cat & Dog Food
 $375.89

And now with the lump sum cash withdrawal

 $913.89
 $20.00 DB Plumbing
 $893.89
 $70.00 Brigades Boys & Girls Club
 $823.89
 $5.00 OT Solutions
 $818.89
 $17.00 Savings for Car
 $801.89
 $5.00 CCA, 04/29 Auto-Draft
 $796.89
 $5.00 LCA, 05/01 Auto-Draft
 $791.89
 $300.00 Cash for Week
 $491.89
 $121.00 AT&T
 $370.89

I find something else totally ironic here – just yesterday I was reading an article on MSN Finance that said Americans are least likely to discuss Credit Card Debt with total strangers than anything else (this same article also mentioned that we as a whole were unlikely to discuss our other financial concerns including mortgages, medical debt, student loans, etc.) – and yet here I am openly sharing everything with the world to see.  Does that make me strange, an over-sharer, or just someone who is totally flipped her lid?  I’ll let you all decide!

Until next time – hold onto this: Your Debt is Your Debt, Whether you Decide to Discuss it is Entirely Yours, But Don’t Discount Those Who Truly Want to Share!

It’s that time of the week again and I am feeling slightly overwhelmed with the mass amount of money going out of our account this week and the small amount we’ll be left with come the middle of the week next week…it’s frightening almost, especially coming off of having the refunds sitting for so long, alas – that comfort will be gone…long gone…so good bye!

I’ve set-up weekly transfers from our checking to savings for the next six (6) weeks to  bring the $650.00 we have sitting in savings for a down payment up to $750.00 for the new car.  We discussed it and decided this was the best, most optimal down payment we could offer.  We think – and I emphasize that word THINK – that this will give us the best leverage when we return to the dealership at the beginning of June – that will also put (2) more payments to Credit Acceptance on our account which will bring the payoff amount down that much as well…so it’s two fold really!

BUT BUT to top everything off – and this is the prime kicker – after having a conversation with CitiMortgage on Monday evening – after receiving a call from our idiot homeowner assistance counselor – requesting a letter drafted by Jimmy and I stating that we don’t pay homeowner’s fees – this would normally be an ok situation but here’s the thing – our neighborhood is over a century old BEFORE the concept of HOA’s was even thought of and it’s really houses situated on through roads in an urban area.  HOA’s are generally used in Pre-Planned neighborhoods where they have that sort of thing…um not us…um it’s not been in ANY of our paperwork EVER that there was one…why they are asking for this now is beyond me! And, to add to it, I received a letter yesterday from them requesting MORE paystubs and a new Workable Solutions Packet – um nothings changed since 3/19 when we sent the first one?!?!? Um am I missing something???  So I sent off a new set of pay stubs and am requesting why they need this new workable solutions packet…please hold on this!

Alrighty then, onto why we’re here…the budget, please enjoy!

 $520.71 Remaining from W/E 04/14/13  $568.30 Lara W/E 04/07/13 Salary
 $37.83 Amt. Spent  $303.33 Jimmy W/E 04/07/13 Salary
 $482.88 Avail. Starting  $871.63
 $14.97 Target  $474.59 Avail. Starting
 $14.38 Target  $871.63 Total Pay
 $1.99 Amazon.com  $1,346.22 Avail. For Bills
 $1.02 Amazon.com
 $5.47 Tommy’s
 $37.83

So again, first the breakdown by line item, then we’ll get into the one with the lump sum cash withdrawal:

 $1,346.22
 $20.00 DB Plumbing
 $1,326.22
 $70.00 Brigades Boys & Girls Club
 $1,256.22
 $5.00 OT Solutions
 $1,251.22
 $170.00 Credit Accept.
 $1,081.22
 $120.00 Progress
 $961.22
 $69.00 Needham Animal Hospital
 $892.22
 $65.20 State Farm
 $827.02
 $7.99 Hulu.com, 4/21 Auto-Draft
 $819.03
 $5.00 WHA, 4/22 Auto-Draft
 $814.03
 $5.00 Coastal Behavioral
 $809.03
 $21.39 Blockbuster, 4/23 Auto-Draft
 $787.64
 $5.00 LCA, 4/24 Auto-Draft
 $782.64
 $170.00  Groceries
 $612.64
 $40.00  Gas
 $572.64
 $30.00  Dinner, 04/19/13
 $542.64
 $25.00  Jimmy’s Money
 $517.64
 $400.00  Citi
 $117.64
 $17.00  Savings for Car
 $100.64
 $25.00  Cat & Dog Food
 $75.64  $75.64
7%  $5.29
 $5.29  $70.35

And now with the cash lump sum withdrawal

 $1,346.22
 $20.00 DB Plumbing
 $1,326.22
 $70.00 Brigades Boys & Girls Club
 $1,256.22
 $5.00 OT Solutions
 $1,251.22
 $170.00 Credit Accept.
 $1,081.22
 $120.00 Progress Energy
 $961.22
 $69.00 Needham Animal Hospital
 $892.22
 $65.20 State Farm
 $827.02
 $7.99 Hulu.com, 4/21 Auto-Draft
 $819.03
 $5.00 Coastal Behavioral
 $814.03
 $21.39 Blockbuster, 4/23 Auto-Draft
 $792.64
 $5.00 LCA, 4/24 Auto-Draft
 $787.64
 $400.00 Citi
 $387.64
 $17.00 Savings for Car Downpayment
 $370.64
 $300.00 Cash for Week
 $70.64
 $5.00 WHA
 $65.64
 $5.29 To Merrill Savings
 $60.35

Alright there ya go! Enjoy!

How is it possible that one of the largest companies for mortgages screws things up so friggin royally? Or rather that they are so out of touch with their customers that they actually cause more stress than they help resolve?  How does that work???

Our restructure has been underway now for about a month, and during that time we’ve spoken to our counselor all of 2 (yes everyone TWO) times and that’s only because we reached out to the mother trucker to see where we were…we sent in the required documents directly to his email address – did he respond to affirm they were rec’d? NOPE! Did he respond to let us  know that they went to the WRONG email address? NOPE!  We had to call this arsehole and ask if they had 1) been rec’d, which they hadn’t, and 2) why they weren’t rec’d – well because they went to the wrong email address…we finally got the right one, which wasn’t on the paperwork they sent us, roughly two weeks AFTER we’d sent the paperwork in…WTF?!?  So then on Friday we rec’d two letters back to back, one said that they couldn’t approve our restructure because they did’t receive the paperwork, and then the other one rec’d the same day, stated that they had rec’d our paperwork and that it would take about a month from the date of the letter to complete our paperwork and restructure, which was April 8th…um HELLO right hand not talking to left…really?!?!

It wouldn’t be that bad, more like frustrating as is IF and ONLY IF their collections department wasn’t still calling us to try and collect on the $5,000 odd dollars we’re back due on…we tell them we’re in the middle of a restructure and they tell us their system doesn’t tell them that…HOLY FRIGGIN CROW are you serious??!?!?!  WOW it’s no wonder the governments bailed out so many of these big companies, no one and I mean no one communicates and their systems don’t talk to each other so no one has any real clue what’s going on inside their own four walls…what in the world?? It’s extremely frustrating – I’ve had to have Jimmy follow-up with this yahoo every week to find out where we’re at – this same yahoo who is supposed to call us at LEAST once a week to check in and see if WE have any questions/concerns…

Oy if I could switch mortgage companies like I switch shampoo brands I’d be happy as a damn clam!

Right now we’re about 3.5 weeks away from that 4 week window the letter mentioned…let’s hope our sanity holds out and we can get through that time frame!

WOW! Another week has gone by, I can’t believe it, though I kind of can…this week went by at a frigging snails pace, with work just dragging and the week just dragging on and on and on…but it finally came to a close and here I am getting ready to embark on another week.  I can’t believe it!

For the news aspect of this post, I am going to share that we FINALLY HAVE A ZERO BALANCE WITH ONE OF OUR UTILITIES!!! This is huge for us as we generally carry a balance month to month and pray each month they don’t cut us off, but I actually made the finally $79.11 payment to Cape Fear Public Utility Authority on Friday – this is until our next bill hits in May, but STILL this is so very exciting for us!!!

Second to that is CitiMortgage and our Re-Structure – I’ll post about this separately as I have a bit of a rant on that status update…

So here’s our budget for the week, we’re in the cycle this year at this time with having to update Rabies vaccines for two of our kitties, Callie and Cinnamon.  So we’re splitting it across two appointments as it’s rather pricey to do them both at the same time.  With a wellness visit, the shot, and the county license we’re looking at $69.00/each…OUCH! Thus the reason only two of our four are registered with the county, remember we have four (4) kitties all together with our Dog, Nixon, who’s due in August for his update and license – but he also has other vaccines we need to get done with him, so that appointment will be rather expensive.  Will need to save for that one 😉

Onto the budget for the week, please enjoy!

 $2,557.00 Federal Tax Refund  $606.08 Lara W/E 04/07/13 Salary
 $685.00 State Tax Refund  $301.34 Jimmy W/E 04/07/13 Salary
 $3,242.00  $907.42
 $36.06 Sunoco
 $14.08 PetsMart
 $35.07 Wal-Mart
 $21.76 Wal-Mart
 $15.10 PCJ
 $8.83 Bath & Body Works
 $8.34 Fuzzy Peach
 $3.52 Dunkin Donuts
 $21.50 Food Lion
 $7.60 PCJ
 $6.00 Tommy’s
 $5.88 Tommy’s
 $183.74

First with the breakdown of expenses/budget items line by line – a little more went to Brigades this week because they are offering Softball/Tee Ball to their members for $10.00, Ashley has opted to play Tee Ball while Austin has opted out:

 $1,172.59
 $20.00 DB Plumbing
 $1,152.59
 $80.00 Brigades Boys & Girls Club
 $1,072.59
 $5.00 OT Solutions
 $1,067.59
 $5.00 CCA, Auto Draft 04/15/13
 $1,062.59
 $5.00 LCA, Auto-Draft, 04/17/13
 $1,057.59
 $89.00 APM Int’l, Auto-Draft 04/15/13
 $968.59
 $79.11 CFPUA
 $889.48
 $69.00 Needham Animal Hospital
 $820.48
 $170.00 Groceries
 $650.48
 $40.00 Gas
 $610.48
 $25.00 Dinner 04/12
 $585.48
 $25.00 Cat & Dog Food
 $560.48
 $25.00  Jimmy’s Money
 $535.48
 $5.00  Cape Fear Peds
 $530.48  Remaining Funds for Bills W/E 04/21/13

And now with the lump sum cash payout – the actual cash req’d was $285.00, but with the ATM dispensing only twenties, I went with $300.00, which was good because we ended up purchasing a rake and some other misc. items that cost about $12.00 at Wal-Mart yesterday so the extra cash came in handy!

 $1,172.59
 $20.00 DB Plumbing
 $1,152.59
 $80.00 Brigades Boys & Girls Club
 $1,072.59
 $5.00 OT Solutions
 $1,067.59
 $5.00 CCA, Auto Draft 04/15/13
 $1,062.59
 $5.00 LCA, Auto-Draft, 04/17/13
 $1,057.59
 $89.00 APM Int’l, Auto-Draft 04/15/13
 $968.59
 $79.11 CFPUA
 $889.48
 $69.00 Needham Animal Hospital
 $820.48
 $300.00 Cash for Week
 $520.48
 $5.00  Cape Fear Peds
 $515.48  Remaining Funds for Bills W/E 04/21/13

That’s it for the week!

Well as predicted, the refund is just all gone…I am simply amazed…this time it took what 5 weeks to blow through them? That can’t possibly be right, can it?  We had a ton of bills that needed paying, catching up on the car past due was the big one, making payments to Citimortgage, again important, but it just doesn’t seem realistic at all that some $3,242.00 is gone…that relief we felt with having that cash was determinable, you could feel it, it was just a huge relief off of our shoulders…but alas it’s gone.  Right now I have all of $607.66 left which I’ve just dumped back into my funds available for bills and have determined that it will be used this week to help off set our AT&T and Citi payments for the week with some left over.  Let us not discount or forget that I have $650.00 pulled aside for the down payment on our next car to be purchased in a few weeks when our restructure is done. So without further adieu, here’s this week’s budget…

 $2,557.00 Federal Tax Refund  $493.48 Lara W/E 03/24/13 Salary
 $685.00 State Tax Refund  $293.88 Jimmy W/E 03/24/13 Salary
 $3,242.00  $787.36
 $4.27 Auntie Anne’s
 $4.33 Starbucks
 $6.40 Chick Fil A
 $6.70 Tommy’s
 $6.95 Once Upon a Child
 $15.27 Lowe’s Foods
 $21.50 McDonalds
 $750.00 Car Down Payment
 $15.00 Kangaroo Exp.
 $4.01 PCJ
 $103.23 Wal-Mart
 $19.53 Chick Fil A
 $8.44 McDonalds
 $(100.00) In From Savings
 $865.63
 $607.66 Remaining of Refund, Added to Income
Less Outstanding Monies, $1,395.02 Start

The budget BEFORE the lump sum cash withdrawal on Fridays – I had to get gas before we got to the ATM yesterday so the cash budget item isn’t accounted for with good reason, it was purchased from our account using our Debit Card

 $1,395.02
 $20.00 DB Plumbing
 $1,375.02
 $70.00 Brigades Boys & Girls Club
 $1,305.02
 $5.00 OT Solutions
 $1,300.02
 $5.00 LCA, Auto Draft 04/10/13
 $1,295.02
 $5.00 Tate & Kirlin, Auto Draft 04/10/13
 $1,290.02
 $150.00 Groceries
 $1,140.02
 $150.00 AT&T
 $990.02
 $337.00 Credit Accept.
 $653.02
 $400.00 Citi
 $253.02
 $30.00 Dinner 04/05
 $223.02
 $25.00 Cat & Dog Food
 $198.02
 $25.00 Jimmy’s Money
 $173.0 173.02
7%  $12.11
 $12.11  $160.91

And now with the lump sum cash withdrawal I took last night

 $1,395.02
 $20.00 DB Plumbing
 $1,375.02
 $70.00 Brigades Boys & Girls Club
 $1,305.02
 $5.00 OT Solutions
 $1,300.02
 $5.00 LCA, Auto Draft 04/10/13
 $1,295.02
 $5.00 Tate & Kirlin, Auto Draft 04/10/13
 $1,290.02
 $150.00 AT&T
 $1,140.02
 $337.00 Credit Accept.
 $803.02
 $400.00 Citi
 $403.02
 $240.00 Cash for Week
 $163.02

Well that’s all she wrote folks!  I guess from here on out we’re on our own with our own cash to pay the bills, no more help from our wonderful refund!