Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Begin again

This blog was originally set up for a place for friends getting scattered with Organized Home boards going down.

Well I guess everyone moved on, so I am taking back over this blog for myself!

I mostly want to use it to contribute my gardening pictures and family pictures.

In the meantime......back to work.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Payroll Friends September 26th

Oh what the heck. Let go ahead and try it out gang.

I know this is going to come as quite a shock to you all, but I am not watching any TV! Okay I am taping the Biggest Loser, but Dr. Phil had Bishop T.D. Jakes on yesterday's show and it had quite an impact on both DH and I.

So I am going to get us started for tomorrow and get up and work around the house another 30 minutes, then go to bed and READ! Yes I am going to start reading again (I hope).

Tomorrow is garbage day so I am going to get that out and clean out the refrigerator. I already mopped the kitchen after cleaning up from dinner.

So my list for Wednesday:
Bathrooms are at the top of the list.
Vacuum and dust.
Dog walk only if I get the other stuff done first.

Oh and Ann, I have been forgetting my Lipitor for like two weeks now! I am back on that and my vitamin tonight!

Monday, September 24, 2007

Financial Harmony #1

Oh my goodness, I going to carefully dip my toe in the water here. Never did this before, but then I was anxious when I first posted at www.OrganizedHome.net . What followed after that initial post was a great ride! I am looking forward to just as much invigorating conversation here at OCents as well.

As Becky mentioned, we will start a new Financial Harmony post every week, but not to worry. Just jump into the current post and add your thoughts, questions, comments just like you did at OrganizedHome. We will talk and write throughout the week as we did before.

I know, change is hard and we usually avoid change whenever we can. But hey! We can have the same community feeling, banter, caring, sharing, and support in this Financial Harmony section as we did in the one at OH!

Come on. Jump in, the water is fine!

KT aka CrochetAddict

The Challenges

So here's the deal!

KT, Cheryl, or I will start a new challenge thread every week (as opposed to the current monthly thread) for Financial Harmony, and the Cleaning thread will be started daily. We'll do a post, either issuing a challenge or just yapping, as always. Then you can click on "comment" and add in your stuff, much the same as a message board.

You can read thru all the comments as they come in and reply to them just like always. It's a little different set-up than a message board, but will still allow us to interact.

You'll notice over on the right side of the page, we also have a "chatbox" feature that enables us to chat with other people hanging around here. This has potential to be great fun! I haven't actually caught anyone on here the same time I am, but we're not busy yet either.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

In The Red?

After you've tracked your spending for a while, time to take a look-see and crunch some numbers.

You'll want to sort your spending by categories. Typically, the categories would include some fixed expenditures, such as mortgage/rent, utilities-- things that you simply must pay. Also there will be plenty of more flexible spending categories-- groceries and eat-out, clothing and other personal care, entertainment.

Take a look now and try to think of any other expenditures that come up during the year. Things that may not have happened during the time you were tracking, but you know will come up. Insurance and taxes, gift-giving, household repairs...

There are two different things you'll need to do now. One is to categorize the spending you've done, add up the numbers, and compare that to your income. Are you in the red? Hmmm, you'll want to fix that! And how you do it is up to you- look at your flexible categories and see where you can cut back.

At this point in the conversation, let me bring up the most important thing of all: PAY YOURSELF FIRST! Ideally, at least 10% of your income should go to savings. Maybe you can't do 10% right now. Start with what you can. You want to get at least a month's worth of income in your savings account. More later. For now, a month's worth is your goal.

Alot of people wonder about debt and savings. If you have debt, shouldn't you pay that off first, instead of saving? Nope. Not having savings is probably why you have debt in the first place. You want to pay off the debt, but you HAVE to get something in savings too. The savings account is your life-saver for the unexpected. There are several methods to debt reduction, but this isn't a post about that, it's about budgeting! We'll deal with debt in a little while.

In addition, you'll want to have money put away for expenses that happen irregularly, but are inevitable. Mary Hunt calls this a Freedom Fund. Things like property taxes, major home repairs, having your tires rotated- those are things that can trip up a budget in a hurry. Don't confuse that money with your savings account, it's not the same thing. Property taxes aren't an "emergency", you knew you'd have to pay them. What you want to do, is take all those expenditures that are irregular but expected, add 'em up, and divide the total by 12. That's how much you should set aside every month to cover those things.

So now you have your regular spending categorized, and figured out how much to put in savings and your Freedom Fund. Are you in the hole yet? If not, great! If you are, take another look at things. Something's gonna have to go.

At this point in the process you can start loading information into whatever system you've chosen to use. Since you've been tracking your spending, you should know exactly how much money you have.

Of course this all sounds a little too easy, right? There are plenty of potential problems in this process and this is a really glossy overview. I'll be back to talk about some of them in a bit.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Choosing a System

After you've tracked your spending for a month, (or maybe while you're still doing that initial tracking) you'll want to investigate your options for a budgeting system.

One of your first choices is whether to go with a paper-based or computer-based system. If you are just beginning the budget journey, the best way might be to go with the traditional envelope system. I personally don't do it because it is cash-only and most of our bills are set up for automatic payments, we both have direct deposit, etc, while it would be possible to go cash-only it would involve re-arranging things we already have in place. Envelope-based systems have been around for a long time, and they've been around so long because they work.

There are advantages and disadvantages to either method. Computer-based budget tools (like the You Need A Budget www.youneedabudget.com that Cheryl uses, Microsoft Money, Quicken, or mVelopes www.mvelopes.com ) are cool because after they're set up, they do alot of the "work" for you. They will automatically add and subtract. Some will import your bank information. You can make charts and graphs. The disadvantages are that you have to be at a computer to do them, and some of the programs have more stuff than you really need.

Paper-based budgeting programs include anything from you setting up your own little chart, to BudgetMap www.budgetmap.com which is what I use. The biggest advantage is that paper-based systems are more portable. The disadvantage? You'll have to do your own math, and if you want a pie chart of your spending, you'd better go find some crayons!

Taking some time to look over various systems is a good idea, or ask for suggestions. When I first started using BudgetMap, I couldn't *bring myself* to fork over the money for the real ones they sell, because they are kind of expensive (IMHO). Instead, I snooped around the website until I figured out how it was set up, then made my own in Word. I used those first, for a little while, until I knew the system worked for me, then I ordered the real ones. Your computer might have come with Money or Quicken, at least an intro version, check it out. mVelopes has a free trial period.

BudgetMap categorizes your spending and puts category into it's own column. When you make a debit, you decide which category it comes from, and deduct the amount. You always have a running total of how much money is left in each category. Deposits are written in and distributed in whatever way you've figured out. The website takes you step-by-step thru setting it up, plus when you order it they send a small booklet of the same information. The BudgetMap itself is the size of a checkbook register, which means you have it with you all the time and can see before you make a purchase if there is money left in the category.

You Need A Budget (YNAB) uses a very interesting idea, one that does make me want to investigate it further. Their premise is that you get the budget set up so that you are spending last month's income. You adjust your categories to reflect that income, assign every dollar to a category, and you've got a month's padding in there. I'm sure your first thought is "how am I supposed to budget last month's income when I already spent it?", but they explain how to slowly build up your reserves. You are no longer living paycheck to paycheck.

And of course, that's just the beginning. There are so many systems out there. Take some time to look around and find one you think will fit!

Don't get too bogged down in the decision-making, though. Some people have everything set up in a spiral notebook, the important thing is to get the ball rolling.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Stop Living Paycheck to Paycheck

Lifehacker starts us off with a topic near and dear to my heart.


For years I lived paycheck to paycheck. Some of the things I could have done to stop this madness:

1. Stop going to the mall for something to do with the girls, which inevitably led to shopping!

2. Get over my sock fetish that led me to purchase way too many socks over the years (not having enough when you are a child leads to overpurchasing in the adult years).

3. Discuss finances with DH and gotten him involved earlier.

4. Gotten over my soda addiction earlier. No a can of soda would not do, it had to be a fountain soda that was costing me close to $40.00 a month.

5. Packed my lunch instead of eating out at Subway nearly every single day! It was right across the street from work.

6. Worked with DH to cook and grocery shop instead of leaving it all to him to do, which led to great meals, lots of waste and way too high a food bill.

7. Planned snacks and meals for the family activities instead of inevitably buying fast food and snack bar food.

8. Actually follow a spending plan better known as a budget instead of just making them up for fun.

9. Found a place for everything and put everything in it's place instead of not being able to find things and buying new. (I think I have three rotatory cutters for quilting, how did that happen?)

10. Pay myself first.

To be honest, I am still working on some of the above list, but at least could live a month or two without a paycheck.... gulp is that all, a month or two?

Time to get to work on this!