Thursday, January 12, 2012

Amy and Ana's Excellent Adventure

Well life takes us on many interesting adventures. My sister's husband has been transferred to California, so they are in the process of moving out there from Atlanta. I volunteered to help her drive their minivan and pets to their new home. Tonight my sister Ana and I have started our drive to San Francisco. I'll chronicle our adventure here to share with you.

Monday, September 12, 2011

The path to home ownership - saving slowly

Ok. Who here doesn't want to save money?

It is time to start looking at the little things and I'm not talking about the Latte Factor - although that can be a concern too.

What are our habits concerning saving money? One thing I almost never do is spend change. I try my hardest not to spend change. I love when something comes to $X.02, because then I will get back 98 cents which will eventually become heavy and bulge out my wallet and end up in the bottom of my drawer.

Well, Thursday was one of those days for which I live. I made a delivery at work and ended up with $28 for my trouble. (This was so outside the range of normal that I'd be shocked if it ever happened again.) So, off to the bank I went to immediately deposit this into my savings account. While I was in the parking lot, I fished out all the change in my car and my purse and turned my $28 into $34.50 after only a few minutes search. I was so excited about this that I went home and started to fish through all my catch-alls - baskets, drawers, pencil cups, etc. and came up with six dollars in pennies, ten in quarters and about five in other denominations along with two dollar bills. These are all rolled and ready to be deposited on the next bank run.

Our bank will start charging us three dollars a month to use our check card. While this is reasonable on our main account, for my business/savings account this is just a waste. Today gave me a new perspective on this. I now look forward to taking out and using cash for all of the daily transactions that will net me more and more change! I've always saved change as emergency gas money, but after reading this post at Kayla K's site I was inspired to do more. In the post, she describes how she paid off her car beyond just making the monthly payment. I love that girl! She is so inspiring.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

The path to home ownership - qualifying

One of the things we are doing differently this time is that we are only qualifying on D's base income. Last time we used both incomes and when both of us had our incomes drop - we were in trouble. Now, my income will not even be reported - even though I currently pay the rent. Also, as a mechanic D's income changes each week based on the work he gets. We are using a standard 40 hour workweek as our basis income for our budget. So, on paper we live on one paycheck and he only makes 40 hours worth of income.

Rental rates are going up in our area. For instance, our same apartment is already renting for $100 more per month than we pay. Pretty soon it will be cheaper to own than to rent, so we will probably start looking when we have a base amount of savings ready rather than waiting until we have saved 20% of the purchase price.We want something modest that we can afford even if times get really bad for us and that we can pay off as quickly as possible. One night we just sat playing with amortization tables on the internet. We found that by doubling only the principle part of the payment we could have a loan paid of years early. If we are careful and buy the right house for the right price, we could conceivably have the house paid off before our 5th grader goes to college.

Our lender has given us the green light as far as getting a mortgage goes. Now all we need to do is save the down payment, but that is for another post.

Friday, September 9, 2011

The path to home ownership...

As we progress down this road, I will share the journey here with you. We have not always been the best stewards of our money and have made some admittedly stupid mistakes in the past, but as thinking and learning creatures we are aware of the pitfalls and are trying to stay clear. We are still paying for the financial mistakes of our past and probably will continue to for some time to come, however we are mapping out a smarter future for ourselves.

We are starting with saving money. We are hoping to be able to save a decent down payment before the market starts getting better and the home prices start heading back upward. We are seeing quite a few properties that would have been beyond reason for us to afford only a few years ago become serious possibilities. We have also begun to work with a mortgage officer at a local bank so that when we have the money and are ready to buy we won't have any nasty surprises.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

So, a year later...

Life goes on. We started and stopped homeschooling our younger child, K. She hated being by herself.  I got another part-time job to go with substitute teaching as I continue to look for something permanent with benefits. D has them, but they are very expensive. My older child, C, learned some hard lessons, turned 16 and got a part-time job. She is now learning to budget, save and spend wisely with her own money while she saves for some immediate goals.

My husband, D, and I have decided that the time has come to embark on the path to home ownership again. We had a home in the early part of the last decade, but that didn't work out so well, so with many painful lessons learned we are starting our way down the path again.

Glad to be back and I hope all of you and yours are doing well.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Changing Focus

I started this blog with the new year as a personal record of my spending. Over the last seven months, I have come to realize that it isn't really about the money, but about how we feel about the money. I have worked hard over the years not to let money define me, but I have to admit that I do feel somewhat deprived when I have zero dollars. It's funny as I don't have to spend them, but merely possess them to feel better. Often I will challenge myself as to how long I can go with X dollars in my wallet.

This previous weekend, I had the great fortune to spend the weekend with my long lost sister (30 years apart) who has been selling online for ten years. She has taken me under her wing and is helping me to establish my own online business. I hope that with another stream of income, we will become more secure financially and be able to build the emergency fund that we want.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

For another $5...

Yesterday, I stopped by Aldi and found another good deal. Pineapples were 99 cents and packs of three colored peppers were $1.99 (usually $4.99 at my Kroger). I'll cut up the peppers and freeze them to use in fajitas which are a staple at my house.

As I've noted before, I do not work in the summer and it is the slow season for my husband's job so money is extra tight during this time of year. During these months, I find that the best thing I can do for my budget is to be extra creative with our meals and look for the best buys even harder.