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January and February Update

February 26th, 2009 at 04:56 am

We spent a little over a month being sick here in the onion patch - all of us, Mr H, Daisy and me. I finally went to visit my doc and got antibiotics. Normally I'm not in favor of that stuff (plus a doctor visit isn't cheap, even with insurance) but I could feel the difference within one hour of taking the first dose. So it was a good decision. Being sick put me in a stupor. It wasn't a terribly productive month.

Checkbook One had a small surplus in January and looks to have the same in February. That will be three months in a row now that Checkbook One has not been overspent. Pinch me, I must be dreaming!

We had a windfall and now our EF is funded for six months. That would be six *tight* months, but I feel relief about our EF.

I've been soliciting Mr H's feedback on the budget for Checkbook One. Usually he doesn't give much. One day he expressed frustration "because the money's already spent". I went back and tried to figure out what he meant, because isn't that the point of a budget - to prioritize and spend your money on paper first? I never did get a clear answer, but I suspect he wants to spend money on some items and doesn't feel like he can. I added a "wish list" to the bottom of the budget page. If there's a surplus we can look at spending money on those items. Some items Mr H would like are on that list.

I've made good progress on Goals 2 and 3, but none on Goal 4.

Mr H and I have had many, many short and sweet financial conversations in the last two months. The all start with one person stating something they want or something that needs to be purchased and the other person asking how we will pay for it. Fortunately they have been civil and productive discussions. It's definite progress for us.

2009 Goals Update

January 19th, 2009 at 04:30 am

Mr H and I had a discussion about the EF in December. We agreed to take some of his bonus money and add it to the 4496.85 already in the Emergency Fund. We later discussed what type of account to put this money in and decided to put it in a three month CD. While it's possible we could lose some interest if we had to tap in to the account, it wouldn't be a huge loss. If we don't have to tap in to it the account will earn better interest than a money market account would.

So, Goal 1 (emergency fund to 8625.00) on my list is completed, six months ahead of schedule!

Goals 2 (budget for checkbook 1) and 3 (decrease food costs) are in progress, with more progress on 2 than 3 I'd say.

Goal 4 (stay away from coffee shops) has had minimal progress. I was given a Starbucks gift card which has helped our bottom line but not my coffee-out habit.

Goal 5 will probably get moved elsewhere, but I may blog about it from time to time.

I will add a goal of earning part-time or sporadic income. This has been in my head for a while, but strangely it's also under way. I was asked by a friend to help tutor some of her children.

Bonus and Budget Update 12/18

December 20th, 2008 at 01:54 pm

My mom visited this last week and it curtailed my blogging. Fortunately (for me) she didn't have any comments about my spotty looking carpet.

Mr H received a bonus check the day before she arrived. At his work place they have something like a profit sharing bonus that usually turns out to be a significant amount of money. I'd guesstimate the take-home amount of it this year is equal to one-fourth of Mr H's annual take home pay. "What would you like to do with this money, Mr H?" was the first thing I said when he told me he'd deposited the check. "We'll talk about it after your mother leaves," was his response. We agreed on a date and time, and this conversation sat for a week.

We discussed it the day she left, just hours after she went to the airport. Mr H surprised me: he had a list ready of things he'd like to spend the money on. The Emergency Fund was at the top of the list! It looks like we will complete the Emergency Fund goal by December 31, well ahead of the July 1 date we'd set. I plan to set further Emergency Fund goals though, and Mr H agreed to that. We also tentatively agreed to replacing the sliding glass door, and replacing the carpet in the family room with a hard surface. Mr H can put in the new door and he has some work connections with a flooring company so even with doing both of these projects there should still be some money left. No firm decisions were made, except for the Emergency Fund. For us this conversation went very well.

Later I showed him a Checkbook One budget update. He didn't have much to say, except to note that the money for Grocery/Cleaning/Personal Care category was almost gone. But - we still might squeak by for the month, if we end up spending less on gas. Usually by this point in the month I've transferred $100 - $500 from savings to cover spending in this account. This savings transfer has been going on for years, so to even get this far in to the month without it is a huge development.

My current Goal 1 of getting the EF to $8625 by July 1 and Goal 2 of a Budget for Checkbook One are progressing nicely.

More for the EF

December 2nd, 2008 at 07:52 pm

Mr. H caught me about a week ago, and told me he had deposited his paycheck. He deposits set amounts into Checkbook One and Checkbook Two. Generally speaking, he manages Checkbook Two (mortgage, regular bills, medical expenses) and I manage Checkbook One (groceries, gas, clothing, gifts, yard and garden, household expenses, hobbies and other miscellaneous stuff). But we both access each account - I'll pay a doctor out of Checkbook Two, or he'll write a check for bowling out of Checkbook One. "And I put $50 in the Emergency Fund like we talked about."

"Which account did the $50 not go into?" I asked. When the words came out of his mouth I already knew the answer to this one.

"Checkbook Number One," he said. It's kind of like when he takes me out to an expensive restaurant for my birthday, and then later I'm juggling expenses to try to figure out how to pay the credit card bill.

"Mr. H, you're giving me $50 less to work with in an account that's overspent each month," I said.

"Oh. I guess we never talked about it," Mr. H said, some part of the light bulb going on over his head. "Fine! I'll just put it back."

"That's not what I said. I suggested that we work together to figure out where this $50 could come from. When you decided to take the $50 from Checkbook One, you're taking our problem and making it my problem. I'll have to make the hard decisions about what to cut out of our expenses." Unsaid was that, to keep peace in my home, I would probably not cut anything that would have an effect on him. So any uncomfortable effects would be on me.

**************

Later on I showed him my post-it, on which I had written the dollar amounts of money I knew would be spent during December from Checkbook One. I assumed that we would spend about 2/3 of our typical food budget (which I'll admit needs to be cut back), I'd cut my coffee allowance to zero, and nothing would be spent out of that account that wasn't groceries, gas, church contribution, credit card payment or bowling (his hobby), plus the $50. If we can stick to that, which admittedly is fairly unlikely**, we'd have $150 in Checkbook One at the end of December. There is very little margin for error. But I do plan to take this up with him again.


** Christmas expenses have generally come out of Checkbook Two.

EF Revisited

November 20th, 2008 at 05:43 pm

Before I made the last post about Goal 1, DH and I had a discussion about the EF.

It was initiated by him. I think he's getting more concerned about the economy and his job.

Anytime he initiates a conversation about money I'm there. I've worked hard to get to this point. I did not let being under the influence of a head cold (and feeling like I'm under water) get to me.

He reiterated what we'd agreed on for the dollar amount. I agreed that this was a good place to start, but countered that I wanted to reevaluate the dollar amount later. (I think that as a final total it's too low.) He agreed to that.

He wanted to include only the money we have in a certain savings account. (I had initially included money in that account as well as a CD in the sidebar.) I agreed.

He also said that he feels more comfortable if the bill paying account (Checkbook Two) is kept at a minimum of $1500. It's currently below that - with property taxes and work done on both our cars in the past month. He'd done two side jobs in the past month - the checks were coming in soon and he wanted to put some of those dollars in the EF and some in the bill paying account. I agreed.

I told him we needed to set a target date for putting the dollars in the EF. He suggested July 1st. That is 8 months to come up with $4,428.15. It doesn't seem like a terribly ambitious goal but I'll take it. For us it's progress.

The next day he deposited $250 from the side job into the account. Only $4178.15 to go.