28 March 2009

Planting time!

This is it! Today was a wonderful, warm sunny day and I broke out the rake and the shovels and got in the garden. I planted three rows of peas, plus a bunch of asparagus! It was so, so exciting. I'm really looking forward to the garden this year, and if the summers off thing works out, its going to be an amazing summer. I could spend all day in there as it is!

22 March 2009

Why I'm going to Walmart

I have to buy a couple of household things- draino, a tablecloth, tissues- and I have decided to go to Walmart this morning. This is for three reasons:
  1. It's cheaper than Stop and Shop
  2. It's closer than Target
  3. I just don't trust myself to go to Target

I really want to go to Target. But I think this is the right decision! I've been staying out of Target for a while now and it's really obvious when you look at my monthly spending. I'd like to keep the non-essential spending as far down as possible, especially if the summers-off plan pans out (which I still haven't heard a definitive answer on).

18 March 2009

you don't NEED anything

(not counting food, water, shelter, love)

It's so easy to think "oh, I NEED a new camera. I NEED new clothes. I NEED a laptop. My kids NEED something new to play with."

I'm totally guilty of this. I was convinced that I NEEDED a radio for my kitchen. I asked my dad for one for Christmas, and he got me a really nice one. But, he didn't hook it up right away, and then he came down with this awful 6 week long flu thing. Time has slipped by, and it's still in the box. And I subsequently realized I don't need it at all.

Sometimes I think "I NEED some new work clothes." But then, I go downstairs and realize all my work clothes are sitting in dry clean only pile, or hanging on the line I have in my basement. Sometimes I wore them once, and forgot about them!

Remember the new vacuum I NEEDED? Still didn't get one- and no, I don't really think I need it anymore!

If you find yourself NEEDING something, give it 6 weeks, and see if you still need it!

16 March 2009

the real challenge

So, yeah, I haven't been doing the Self Challenge. I need to get remotivated! I'm about 13 lbs heavier than I'd like to be, and about 7 lbs heavier than I should be. Peanuts, right? Except my pants don't fit, because I bought them all when I went back to work full time and I weighed 13 lbs less. And no pants that fit= buying new pants, which= money. So this is an important frugal challenge.

So, back on track. I mean it. Starting tomorrow. :D (only because I've already eaten dinner and my sister is visiting, so no exercising tonight)

15 March 2009

If not home ownership, then what?

The more I think about it, the more I want to put home ownership on the back burner in my list of financial goals. Right now, without divulging too much personal information, my rent is lower than my mortgage payment would be if I had a 20% downpayment, no pmi, and no taxes! So for me to buy this house, I would pay significantly more to live in the same house.

Of course, I would be gaining equity. But how much? The mill rate in my town is high, so I would be paying significant property taxes. I would get a tax break for owning a home, but I don't make enough money to pay much in taxes anyway. I don't live in a town that is highly desirable, so the property values are fairly stable. In fact, they've gone down, like everywhere else, but never went up really high, like everywhere else in my state.

In addition, right now I don't pay for water, and I don't pay for repairs.

And finally, in a way, renting saves me money somewhere else- decorating. My kitchen is terribly outdated, but I would never remodel it, because it's not my house. I wouldn't buy new furniture, because I don't know if it would fit in my next place. I'd like to fix up the basement, but not as a renter.

So... I don't know. I feel like I *should* want to own a home, but I'm not sure why I feel like I should. Is it because I really want to, or because I feel like that is what is expected of me? I'm going to take some time to really think this over, especially because if I decide it's not a priority, then I can switch to the summers-off schedule with a much less guilty conscience.

14 March 2009

Home buying for single parents

The 10-month work year dilemma has caused me to seriously evaluate some of my financial goals. I definitely want to pay off my debt. But what's next? I've always thought I should buy a house, and that was one of the reasons why I started this project. However, recently I had a few problems with the house I'm renting- some basement flooding, too much snow to shovel, a broken oven- and I've realized that it's really, really difficult for me to manage a house all by myself. Not only do I not have the time, but I don't have the physical strength or expertise to fix or shovel as I need to. And frankly, I don't have the money!

So, what if I did buy this house? Would I be happy because I owned my own home, or stressed financially and overwhelmed by maintenance? If you own your home, is it worth it?

13 March 2009

No decisions (yet)

I haven't heard back from the school about whether or not the 10 month work year is approved. Once it is approved, they will give me all the final details and I can make a decision.

I am definitely leaning towards doing it, but a part of me would be relieved if they said no because that would mean paying my debt off that much faster. However, I went to therapy today and my therapist said that I don't really know what's down the pike- I could end up getting a promotion, a merit raise, or even get married or something- and all of that would equate to more money (or shared expenses, in the case of the marrying option).

I'll definitely keep posting updates!

12 March 2009

BIG decision time!!

I work for a state, and our governor has asked all state employees to consider reducing their hours, either weekly or on a calendar year basis.

What this means is that I can switch to a 10-month work year, and have July and August off- unpaid.

So, for about a 10,000 a year (before taxes) pay cut, I can have the summer off with my kids until they are off to college. I figured out what it would be, after taxes and the pay raise we're scheduled to get July 1st, and it comes out to 4800 dollars less a year. Then if you subtract the amount I would save on daycare, it's 2600 less a year. Or, 50$ a week.

So for 50$ a week, I can spend two months with my kids every summer, hanging out, spending time together, supervising them as they get older, driving them to the movies with their friends. I can garden EVERY DAY. I can relax. I can look forward to summer like you did when you were in school.

Am I insane? Would you do it?

08 March 2009

getting very nervous

The word on the street is that my ex may not be working, which spells disaster for me. I'm not really sure what's going to happen but for right now I need to be as vigilant as possible about paying things off, which is not easy because I have a bunch of travel expenses for work I need to cover up front and won't be reimbursed for for quite a while.

Lottery ticket time?

02 March 2009

ughhhhhhhhhhh. ugh.

I was going to go to bed, but I need to get this out.

I'm really, really frustrated with my lack of progress.

I want it to be over! I want to be debt free. And even though I spent a lot of extra money on myself this month, I think overall I have been really good with my budget and spending. But I'm not seeing it melt away, and I want it gone. And I still have 80% of it left. That's so much.

There are things I need, for work, for myself, for my kids. It pisses me off that I can't have the things that I could technically afford because of this stupid debt.

Okay, really, bed. Vent over.

01 March 2009


I'm really sore from the 30 Day Shred, but in weird places. The bicep on my left arm, which is definitely my weaker arm, is totally sore, but my right arm is fine. Also my calves are very sore, which is a weird place to be sore. I'm wondering if this is because I wasn't doing things right?

I'm going to take a day off today to recover, but I have to decide if I'll have time to do this before work in the morning. To have time, I'd have to get up around 4:45, which is sort of insane. I don't know!

My other option is to do it after the kids go to bed, which is also sort of insane, because there are nights when that isn't until almost 9:00.

I could do it on the three days that the kids are with their dad, but I usually use those days for errands and going out with friends.