Wednesday, December 31, 2008

2009 Goals

My SMART goals for 2009:

  1. Pay off credit cards ($6000) by July1. Plan: pay $900/ month x 6 + $600 from Job 2.

  2. Have an emergency fund with two months living expenses by Dec. 31, 2009. $600 x 6

  3. Start sinking funds for next car and house expenses. Still working on details-$110/month right now.
  4. Use YNAB to track spending and budget. Update weekly.


  1. Work out or walk 2x a week.
  2. Walk dog every day.
  3. Recommit to morning and evening Flylady routines to reduce mental clutter.
  4. Attend a Bible study.
  5. Act on my interests and learn something new--possibilities are astronomy club or Master Gardener


  1. Make a planned project for each month to improve the house. Projects include: painting the kitchen, my bedroom, 2nd bedroom, refinish wood floors, make steps to the river, new bathroom floor and tub walls.

  2. Start a compost bin and plant a garden.

These goals are a work in progress, but it feels good to have a direction to start 2009.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Does anyone remember this Indiana blog?

I read a blog post a few weeks ago about a mother-in-law who volunteered by picking up surplus food from restaurants, especially Panera, and delivering the food to homeless shelters and group homes. I would like to find out more about the organization, but I can't find the blog or the link to the charity. I think it was located in Indiana. If you have any clues, let me know!

Sunday, December 28, 2008

YNAB for the New Year

One reoccurring problem I have with budgeting is mentally spending allocated money more than once. Since this is physically impossible, my debt-reduction plan is not very realistic. For example, when I first began trying to pay off my debt in June 2007, I estimated that I would be debt-free in December 2008. While I have made great progress--reducing debt by $7500, my estimates were way off! I need a system that keeps me accountable. My budgeting tools in the past were pencil and paper first, then last April I found an Excel worksheet from Mr. Debtbeater based on bi-monthly pay. I was diligent about planning my budget, but not so diligent about entering actual expenditures. I tried jars and envelopes, but was still able to avoid the consequences of overspending. In September, I looked at spreadsheets to track expenses, but my brain was so stressed with school and then moving that I couldn't get started with anything new.

I first saw YNAB online awhile ago and was intrigued by it, so I decided to give the Excel version a try. YNAB stands for You Need a Budget, and is based on 4 Rules of Cash Flow that merge nicely with Dave Ramsey's Baby Steps and the envelope system. What I like about it is that if I overspend in one category, I have to figure out a way to "fix it" either this month or the next. I can spend less in that category next month, or move money from another category. My budget will be a better reflection of my actual spending.

I'm sure I will make mistakes and miscalculations, but with the YNAB software, at least I'll be aware of them and be more likely to correct my errors. I am excited to try January's numbers.

Does anyone else use YNAB?

Debt Reduction Progress

As I try to work out my goals for 2009, I want to evaluate my financial success and failures for 2008.

At the beginning of 2008, I had $11,700 of non-mortgage debt, and a $162,000 mortgage. During this year, I have paid $5500 to debt, sold my house and purchased a smaller one. My current status is:

Credit card debt:
Dec. 2008 $6200

Emergency fund:
Dec. 2008 $850

Dec. 2008 $117, 000 (I need to look up the exact figure)

I am pleased with my progress in 2008. I have not been "gazelle" intense in paying off debt because another of my goals is to enjoy life now with my children and friends. Some of my splurges were: buying a share of a 20-year old boat, going to Ocean City with friends from college, going to Charlotte for a cross-country race.

I want to continue to be able to have dinner out with friends and to perhaps plan a trip to NYC in the summer to visit DD2. I want to budget for these important expenses as I plan for 2009. Realistic planning is a challenge for me. I think I need more accountability in my budget. I really want to find a system that works for me.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Get Inspired!

Great quotes from wise people:
1. From Suze Orman, "No blame, no shame". Start where you are. Just start! Thanks to Blogging away debt for the link.

2. From Sharon Rose, "Slow progress is better than no progress". Thanks to Ms Money chat for the Financial Nugget.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Help for the debt-free journey

I discovered the personal finance blogging world last year about this time. These are some resources that were helpful to me.

Dave Ramsey's Total Money Makeover opened my eyes to the possibility that I could successfully take control of my finances. Mary Hunt's Debt Proof Living is another website with good information. I recommend checking out books by both authors if you need a vision for your financial future.

Bob at Christianpf has a series on getting out of debt as well as spreadsheets to download.Ncn at nocreditneeded has a series called debt reduction 101.

Lynne at Beingfrugal has practical tips to reduce spending and live within your budget.

The first debt reduction blog I started to read was JW at Need to be debt-free. He and his family have made great progress while dealing with some setbacks along the way.

I have been inspired and encouraged by the other blogs on my side bar, but these were the ones I started with in December 2007. They helped encourage me on my journey in 2008.
I haven't been perfect, but I have made progress in 2008--I have a plan. I have paid $5500 to debt reduction. I have been able to pay for several unexpected expenses without going further in debt.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Check out the Christmas Giveaway at

Bob at is having a great giveaway--ipods, tax software, Pampered Chef, books--lots of chances to win. It's easy to enter, but hurry. The contest ends on Dec. 29.

Monday, December 22, 2008

AP Physics audit approved!

My AP Physics course audit was approved! Yes! What a relief!

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Looking forward-becoming debt-free in 2009

In August, my goal was to pay off my credit card debt by May 1 of 2009. With the expenses of buying a house and moving, I'm a little behind where I wanted to be at the end of 2008. I currently owe $5700. That means I would have to pay $1400/month in order to make my goal of May 1st--not possible.
I must revise my pay off goal, but the end is definitely in sight. I really think I can be debt-free in 6 months! Wow! I'm looking forward to Baby Step 3--saving a fully funded 3 month emergency fund
I still have to make a budget for January and the New Year. I'm not sure how the utilities will run for the new house, so I'll have to estimate the gas, electric and water bills for 2009. I'm looking forward to crunching the numbers.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Plumbing problems

The kitchen sink has 3 leaks--the faucet, the disposal, and the drain pipe. The bathtub is also leaking. I tried to call a plumber Friday, but the number was disconnected. Where have all the plumbers gone?
I'm going to try to find the number of a "handy man" for Monday. The last time I tried to do plumbing myself, I broke the pipe and was without a kitchen sink for a few days. Since I have so many plumbing problems, I was to get them fixed correctly.

I'm really glad I replenished the emergency fund--this is probably going to be expensive. I'm thankful that I should have enough money to cover the repairs.

Goals update

It's time to check my goals for last week. I had a few successes and have a few to finish.
Goals for the week:
Work out 2x. Worked out 1x and walked 1x.
Buy 3 more gifts. 1 down, 2 more to go, but I have a plan.
Buy and decorate tree. The tree is up! It looks great!
Continue unpacking--make a plan. I unpacked 7 boxes, still 3 more to go. My wonderful dd1 and son-in-law organized the boxes in the basement and set up dd2's bedroom furniture in an alcove in the basement. She now has her own space when she comes home from college.

Wow! Until I typed a response for each goal, I really didn't think I had made much progress. Note to self: keep making goals!

Monday, December 15, 2008


Hey, my post was deleted when I tried to publish it. No idea what I did wrong.

Does anyone have suggestions for a website to help me organize financial papers, photographs, and a nonexistant linen closet? I have less closet space in the new house, so the things I used to stuff in my closet, I now need to find a home for.
Goals for the week:
Work out 2x.
Buy 3 more gifts.
Buy and decorate tree.
Continue unpacking--make a plan.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Follow through

I'm having a difficult time finishing tasks. Progress from last week's list:

Letters written, one still needs printed out.

Some payments mailed, two to go

Unpacked 3 bags and 1 box, 9 more to go (mostly books)

Still need to work on basement

Still need to call neighbors

Did laundry, now more needs done

Started Christmas shopping, 3 more gifts to buy

Finished AP audit!

Went to church

Made dinner and 1 batch of cookies (now those are all gone)

Right now--move bookshelf and unpack books, then make a new list

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Check: One goal down, 7 more to go!

I just finished my AP Physics audit, which had really been weighing on me. It's the only thing I finished from my week-end list, but it was a big one. Now I can focus on getting the smaller things checked off.

Emergency fund replenished

I decided to replenish my emergency fund instead of sending $500 to CC debt. After reading comments (Thanks, jpkittie!), talking to family members and reading what other bloggers had to say, I decided that a small emergency fund was the wise choice, since I had depleted it when putting the deposit on the new house. I now have $850 in my emergency fund, and will add $80/month to it.

Saturday, December 6, 2008


It's been six weeks since I've posted, due to Internet problems and moving to a new house. I moved 2 weeks ago and now have Internet again. The move itself took several days and was quite a learning experience. I learned about: epoxy coating a basement floor, Pellet stoves, gas fireplaces, moving companies (there aren't too many left in my town), refinishing wood floors (not doing this now), retraining dogs, and Drilock. I had a lot of needed help during the move: my children and son-in-law, my parents and my friends. They were all fantastic and jumped in where ever they were needed. I love them all!
We are about 75% settled. The kitchen, dining room, living room, DS room, DD1 and DSIL's room are 90% complete, however, my bedroom and bath and the basement still need to be organized. DD2's room in the basement is still to be built.
I'm having trouble mentally organizing my finances. I think that I have paid all the moving expenses, but I don't have a clear picture of what finances at the new house will look like.
The good news is that I haven't added to my overall debt--right now it stands at $6200. I will reduce that by at least $500 more this month.
Financial decisions to make:
Do I pay an additional $500 to CC's or replenish my emergency fund? I have $350 in EF now.
I would like to pay CC's, but with the uncertainty in my budget, I'm not sure that is wise.

Goals for the day:
Type letters
Mail payments
Unpack and organize my bedroom.
Look at basement and decide about Fast Plug
Call neighbors
Laundry--3 loads

Goals for this evening:
Christmas list and planning
Look at AP Physics

Goals for tomorrow:
Make cookies and dinner

It's good to be back!