Friday, October 24, 2014

Friday Confessions

We made it to another Friday!

This week has been a busy, but productive one over here.

Anyone have any fun weekend plans?

Its Friday, so that means its time for Friday Confessions!

Here we go.

1.I asked a guy if he washed his hands after coming out of the restroom. I had a meeting and I was going to meet a vendor to do some work. He walked out of the restroom right when I walked into the lobby of the building. I walked up, shook his hand, and said "I sure hope you washed." He got red faced and didn't respond. Ugh.

2. We have been binge watching Friday Night Lights. This t.v. show is AMAZING! We watched 3 episodes each night this week, and then we both woke up at 3:30AM and watched it before work. Addicting!

3.We stared down a neighbor from our porch. Our neighbors boyfriend parks right in front of our house, right next to our driveway. It makes it really hard to back out and he parks in a way that we nearly hit his car all the time. We have asked him to stop parking so close to our driveway and give us more room. He has not. So this week, he pull up and we stood on the porch and watched him park.

All right gang, fess up!

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Before and After: The Patio

When we first purchased our home about 2.5 years ago, we knew it needed some work. Nothing major, just some TLC.

About a year ago, my husband and I were sitting on the back patio enjoying the weather, and we were torn because there was football on t.v. We wanted to watch football, while still being outside. I think I said something along the lines of "We should put a t.v. out here." It was just a flippant comment.

But, my husband heard it, and the wheels in his head started turning. He began to think and dream about what a patio cover would be like. 

We looked at some, priced them, and they were way out of our budget, and I never wanted to pull the trigger. But, if my husband is anything, he is persistent. The subject was brought up at least 3 times a month, if not more. 

Finally, after my husband bid it out again, he found a vendor to build the cover at a really aggressive price, and I caved in. It looks great, and we are so happy with it!

The Before:
The deck

 The After:

We added strip lights inside 

The final piece, the furniture! I have been eyeing and lusting over this Martha Stewart set at the Home Depot for over a year! 
This has been the biggest, most expensive project we have undertaken at our home. I think this may be the final project for the year. This year has been the year of home improvement projects, and I think at this point, we are ready to stop with the house projects and enjoy what we've got and all that we have done.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Money Monday: Why we don't use credit cards

5 years ago, my husband and I sat down on our couch, took out a pair of scissors and cut up all of our credit cards.
Then, we took a look at our accounts, totaled all of our extra cash, and left 3K aside as an emergency fund. With just a few thousand to use, we decided to pay off as much of our credit card debt as we could that day.  Once each credit card was paid in full, we called the bank and cancelled our card. One by one, the credit card debts were paid, cancelled, and we vowed that we would never be in credit card debt again.
One part of the process that surprised us was how hard to was to actually close each account. The banks tried to offer us perks (higher credit limits, an upgraded card, concierge services, ect.) and once we declined, we were put through to a supervisor. Then, the supervisor tried to sweet talk us with the perks again. When that didn’t work, they began the scare tactics, and tried to bully us into keeping our cards. It took persistence, determination, and focus for us to remain on track.
But, we did it. We stuck to our guns and kept pushing towards our goal.
I remember after we cancelled our last card being scared. I never realized how tied I was to that piece of plastic. That card was our emergency fund. It was the safety net. Again, we pushed through those feelings and stuck with our plan.
Why did we give up credit cards?
First, we found that when we used credit cards, we spent more money.  This may not be the case for everyone, but when we bought on plastic, it was so much easier to buy more items.
Today, we utilize the envelope system and use cash for food, gas, dry cleaning, pet supplies, home goods (cleaning, HBA, make up ect), and entertainment. Once the money is gone, its gone and we don’t get to spend any more that month. Using cash is what lead me to becoming a couponer because when I bought a cart of groceries with my credit card, I didn’t think about price as much. But, when I sit in the store parking lot and count the cash in my envelope, I have no choice but to stay on budget. Sometimes we have to sacrifice and not buy things we want this week, but I can normally find a coupon for it, so we usually are able to get that item in the next few weeks with a discount.
Second, we read the fine print. The contracts with the credit card companies favor the banks, not the consumer. CC companies advertise a fixed rate, but in our agreement, they were able to increase the interest rate just by giving a two week notice.  
Third, we didn’t trust the credit card companies.  Credit card companies have spent hundreds of thousands of dollars to study the consumer. They have sociologist, scientist, psychologist that study us and our behaviors. They study how we act and think in order to get us to spend more money. They try to sell us on a life that quite frankly we could not afford on our own, but with their credit card we could achieve.
Finally, we wanted to be self-reliant and free. We wanted to call the shots in our own financial life, and didn’t want to be tied to an institution that tracked our habits and used that information in ways that were not helpful, but harmful.
Are we missing out?
Sure, we don’t get frequent flyer miles, or discounts at the store, but in most cases, I can find a coupon code online and get those savings anyway.
But, what we don’t get in rewards, we more than make up for in piece of mind. We never worry about what the mail when it comes in because we know there is no bill out there with our name on it that we forgot about.
In the end, living without credit cards is not for everyone, but for us, it works. The beauty of personal finance is that its personal. If you do something that works for you, that does not for me, that’s great! I don’t think one decision is better than the other, they are just different. As long as you have a plan and working that plan, then good for you!

Tell me: Do you use credit cards? If so, how many do you have?  If not, when did you get rid of yours? Why did you get rid of them?

Friday, October 17, 2014

Friday Confessions: Homecoming Edition

Happy Friday Y'all!

Its State Fair time here in Texas, and that can only mean one thing, Homecoming! While I don't have any desire to go to my high school, college, or graduate school homecoming, it does take me down memory lane.  Its Friday night lights, high school dances, and of course looking around to find out who has the biggest mum.
While this was not my mum, I did have some pretty righteous mum's during my high school years! 

So in honor of Homecoming, I thought I would give you some blast from the past Friday confessions from my high school years.

1.I backed my car over the mailbox at the house. I was backing out of the driveway and somehow I ended up in the grass with the mailbox under my car. I drove off.

2. I got sent home from school most Friday's. At my high school we had a dress code for shorts and skirts, they had to be a dollar bill width above the knee. On Friday's I would wear a skirt and hike it up before my geometry class. We had quizzes each Friday and my geometry teacher was my soccer coach.

3. I closed my eyes during my drivers test. We were driving over a bridge and I got scared. So I closed my eyes and the instructor freaked, but somehow still gave me my license.

4. I offered to buy my soccer coach cigarettes and porn. When I turned 18 I wanted to do something with my newfound adulthood. I asked him that during practice one day. He was not amused.

5. I dated a guy who was a drummer but didn't tell anyone it was in the high school band. I thought it made me sound cool to date a drummer, I just didn't tell anyone where he drummed. They found out eventually and made fun of me.

6. I broke up with said guy 2 hours before prom and refused to go with him. I told him I was sick, and when he came over, I broke up with him. But, did manage to go water skiing with him the next day.

Alright friends, fess up!!!

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Tales from my Iphone

Gas for $2.87. I have not seen gas prices that low in years! Time to fill up the tank! 
Had a court date on Monday. We were issued a criminal citation for having tree limbs in the front  yard. We had the tree trimmed and the company but the limbs on the curb. Their truck came by less than 2 hours later to pick them up. In the 2 hours they finished a city inspector drove by and gave us a citation. I had to go before a judge and explain it. She dismissed it right away. What an enormous waste of time. 

I have been obsessed with this song. I listed to it on repeat while I ran 6 miles. 

Our dog stands like this for about 30 minutes every single morning 

Woot woot! Got lots of packages!!! 

Last week's couponing haul. About $50.00 worth of product for $11.50! 

Monday, October 13, 2014

Money Monday: The Cash Envelope System

5 years ago, my husband and I decided that we were done using credit cards, and switch to using cash and our debit card.
Our cash envelope wallet. 
We were trying to get out of debt, control our spending, and simply of financial life.
For us, the envelope system means that we use cash to pay for the majority of the things we purchase through out the month.
Here is how our system works:
We withdrawal cash twice a month, on the 1st and 15th. On the first, withdrawal pull cash for the following categories for the month:

Groceries: Self explanatory
Entertainment/Eating Out: Restaurants, concerts, events, ect.
Pet Supplies: Treats, brushes, food, ect.
Dry Cleaning: Self Explanatory
Home Goods: HBA, Cleaning Supplies, Toilet Paper, ect
Gas: Have to keep the tank full
Fun Money: The money my husband and I get to spend however we please.
At the beginning of the month, we put a set amount into each envelope, and that is all we get to spend for that month on that item. (Barring an emergency of course).
We have found that if we are more likely to spend more money when we don’t use cash, so this is a really good technique that we have found to help us stay on or under budget.
For some reason, for us, me especially, when I use plastic, even my debit card, it does not register that I am spending money. But, when I have to pull out those green dollar bills every time I shop, and I see my envelopes getting thinner and thinner, I think twice about what I buy. Which is why I because such a fan of using coupons. 
On the 15th, we do our second withdrawal. This time, the money we pull from our account may not be used on a monthly basis, so we it will continue to grow if not used. At this withdrawal, we pull money for:
Christmas: We save a set amount each month all year, so that when December comes, we get to spoil the people we love presents!
House: This is for house decorating, minor home improvement projects, furniture savings, ect.
Car: For car maintenance like new tires, oil changes, ect,
Fun Money: A second disbursement of blow money for each of us.
My husband and I each get $40.00 a month in fun money to do whatever we want with. ($20.00 every two weeks) This can be used to eat out, buy a purse, buy shoes, buy make up, buy books, well, that’s what I do with my money.
Finally, at the end of the month, we combine all the cash we have left from the first withdrawal, and as a bonus for staying under budget we each get 10% as a little end of month bonus. The rest gets put into our spontaneous fund that we use as spending money when we buy things for a party we host, or extra spending money when we go on vacations out of town, or for a special night out.
Using cash helps us stay on or under budget, and simplifies our end of month account reconciliations, because there is a lot less activity in our checking account.
This system works great for us. For some, it may not be feasible, and may be easier to use some other system. Doing this motivates us to stay disciplined and encourages us to come in under budget each month.

Tell Me: Are you on the envelope system? How does it work for you? How do you budget and track your different expense categories?

Friday, October 10, 2014

Friday Confessions

Happy Friday y'all!

I hope that y'all have had a great week! Its time for our Friday Confessions.

1. I have a couple of friends on Fitbit and my one goal daily is to beat them. So I march in place all day long.  Even at work, I will talk to someone and step side to side just to keep my step count up.  People ask me all the time if I have to pee. I always have to explain myself.

2. I ate six Twix in a row. The regular sized ones, not the minis. I have a problem. A big one.

3. I take toilet seat covers and put them in my purse every time I go to a public restroom. I drink a ton of water, and I have to pee ALL THE TIME. And because of that, I always have to go to the restroom, so I tend to take a few extra and keep them in my purse in case one of the restrooms I visit does not have any.

4. I wore the same shirt twice this week on accident. I wore it with a skirt one day, and the next day I wore it with pants. I didn't realize it until I got to work, because my assistant pointed it out.

All right gang, its your turn, fess up!