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May 2013 Budget Report

June 4th, 2013 at 07:55 pm

So, this is how I did in May:



The overage in Everything Else is from my pergola cover, the second installment of J's camp, and a donation to the American Red Cross.

Groceries continue to be a challenge. My daughter and son-in-law arrived yesterday, and will be here until mid July. I expect groceries to continue to be a challenge. I know I can do better. And I'm just going to have to start.



April 2013 Budget Report

May 5th, 2013 at 03:34 pm

So I got my April numbers together, and here is my April budget report.

Everything Else included $300 for J's allowance and $370 to the IRS. If I exclude those, I did OK. Smile


My New Part-Time Job?

April 10th, 2013 at 08:21 pm

Apparently, I now have a part-time job. However, I am still not entirely certain. On Monday, the woman who called to ask me if I was interested called again to ask when I am meeting with "M" (person who has been issuing their financial statements) to discuss where he is leaving off. Mind you, I have never heard from M. I told her I have no meeting arranged with M. She replied in a confused tone "But, he hired you." I laughed and said "Oh, I did not know that." She laughed too. This sort of thing is very typical for this particular unorganized organization.

I am expecting to clear 4k on Monday from my bonus and over-time. I have it earmarked like this:

$1200 Roth
1700 CurveBall
400 E Fund
400 Vacation Fund
300 J's Annual Allowance

Now, if you take a peek to the left at my sidebar, you will notice CurveBall is sitting at just over $1200. However, I still need to pull out $600 for the vet bill charged to Visa, and $370 for the IRS. So while CurveBall is not anemic, it is also not so very flush. When the dust settles, it won't be a great deal larger than it is right now.

J's summer camp is coming up. The cost is $500. Last year, ex-h agreed to split it with me. However, I have not seen one red cent of his half. So, there is no point in pretending he will split it with me this year. He won't. If J goes, I will have to pay.

I think going away to summer camp is an important developmental experience for a teen or tween. But J has already been 3 times. So, he has had that experience.

He loves the camp. At his age, he is in a junior leadership role.

I have told J frankly that while I do have the money, I feel I may need the money for other things. I do discuss money and budgeting with J, and we talk about how you must cover your needs first, then you can think about things you just want with what is left over. We also talk about how some needs aren't a regular bill like the electric bill, but are things which come up from time to time, and so you need to plan ahead to cover them.

J was disappointed, but said "I understand, Mom". Then he mentioned his money (he has about $1400 in a mutual fund, about $300 in his savings account, plus his allowance is coming up). I said no, I didn't want him using his money for camp. Then he asked if he got a part-time job when school is over, did I think he would be able to earn enough in time to go to camp. I said maybe you could, see if you can find a job. So he plans to try.

Now, I think it would be great for him to have a part-time job. And I really am proud of his attitude. He is disappointed, but not sulky. He rarely asks for anything and he rarely complains. He really is a great kid.

I want to send him, but I am not sure I should part with the money. I could skip the Vacation Fund infusion. It takes me so long to save for a vacation that I am loathe to pass up this annual opportunity to give it a nice little boost.

He doesn't know I am still considering, as far as he knows, the matter is closed.

In other news, my trad IRA broke 130k today for the very first time.

March 2013 Budget Report

April 2nd, 2013 at 09:28 pm

Februrary 2013 Budget Report

March 2nd, 2013 at 09:42 am



Overall, not too bad.

I continue to overspend in Groceries (includes household supplies).

The cost of my car insurance and car maintenance/repair bill exceed the overage in Everything Else.

January 2013 Budget Report

February 2nd, 2013 at 08:47 pm



Months like this one show me, I still have so far to go. Way too much spending in "everything else". Of course, $600 was my HVAC repair. But even excluding that, it was too much. Where did it go? Mostly eating out (for convenience), which was totally unneccessary as we have plenty of groceries at home. J did get some new clothes (2 jeans, 4 tshirts), his first this entire school year. He got a new speedo for swim team. I bought him some things at Party City for spirit week. Face paint and green hair spray to be the joker. A red bandana with attached fake dredlocks for pirate day. (I figured that one will be great in the future for International Talk Like A Pirate Day, Halloween, and the occasional FSM event. Not so much for me, but for J or even BF.) I blame no one but myself.

I don't regret the J expenses at all, but because of those expenses, there shouldn't have been ANY meals out. To me, that is the point of having a discretionary category like "everything else".

Well, nothing to do but begin anew in February.

I have received my electric bill for February, and after I pay it I will have a credit balance of $504.51. February is the month they recalculate my "balanced bill pay" amount, and March is the first month I pay the new amount. I am expecting my monthly bill to drop at least $50. I will be able to trim a bit from my budget for utilities. I intend to add that amount to my automatic CurveBall transfer.

I am still waiting to receive payment from Second Spin. Looking forward to adding that to E Fund.

My wallet sweep last payday netted me $1 for E Fund. Just $1. I guess really, anything at all is a bonus because it is the unspent portion of my cash allowance. Nonetheless, I like to do a little better than that!

Tomorrow I will work a full day and bank some more OT hours. I'm looking forward to the work tomorrow, too. A client with 3 LLCs and some personally owned rental properties. I don't do her tax returns, but I get to do her accounting for the year. For some reason, I always look forward to doing her books. If I finish with her stuff before I have put in 8 hours, I have plenty of other work to choose from.

Budget Adjustments for 2013

December 31st, 2012 at 03:07 pm

* The payroll tax holiday is over.
* My credit card debt is gone.
* My grocery budget is not high enough.
* I need a line item for Emergency Fund.
* I need a line item for Vacation Fund.

All of this adds up to budget adjustments. Here is my new monthly budget:

December 2012 Budget Report

December 31st, 2012 at 02:48 pm

November 2012 Budget Report

November 30th, 2012 at 07:37 pm

So here is how my month went.



I came in under budget on groceries, gasoline, and utilities. Smile I "overspent" on savings and credit card debt. Smile Smile

"Everything Else" this month included $400 for my new fence, $31 for my new sheets, $80 for J's birthday gift, $73 dining out, and $50 to the American Red Cross.

So I am pleased with how I did. Having a nice low Visa bill was awesome! It will be low next month as well, so I should be able to "overspend" on savings again. And, fingers crossed, hopefully next month I will be able to kill my credit card debt. Our Christmas dinner is on Dec. 8th, so then I will know.

ETA: And I nearly forgot! As today was payday, I did a wallet sweep and sent off $11.00 to E fund.

Another Month Is Winding Down...

November 27th, 2012 at 08:57 pm

...and I am doing OK with the old budget. Smile

I did send a bit extra off to Citi MC, an extra $30.20 to be exact. This whittled the balance down to $1,400.00.

I estimated my 2012 income tax returns, and it looks as though I will net about $500. So, I did OK with my tax planning too.

I stopped at the grocery store tonight and whipped out my AmEx card for the very first time. I learned that they don't take AmEx! This particular grocery store is conveniently located, just a few subdivision blocks away. It has low prices. I do most of my grocery shopping there. So, I don't know if I will apply for that Preferred Blue AmEx card or not, the one Monkey Mama mentioned (and I think I read that CeeJay has that one, too) which gives 6% back on groceries but charges a $75 annual fee. I am going to try using the one I have (Blue) for a few months and see how much I can use an AmEx without changing my shopping habits.

I have been working on switching automatic payments to my WF Home Rebate Visa. If something falls into the "and 1% on everything else" category, I prefer to earn a principal reduction to my mortgage.

I have also been working on getting payees set up on bill pay, for those vendors who will not accept a credit card as payment, or who do but charge a fee.

I'm looking forward to whittling down the number of open credit cards I have. I want to get down to just AmEx, Chase Freedom, and WF Home Rebate Visa. I will keep my Kohl's store card open too, but that is the only store card for which I have any use. I think I am only one month away from being able to make that happen.

Payday, Money In, Money Out

November 17th, 2012 at 02:06 pm

Thursday was payday. I had $28 in bills plus a full coin purse left from my allowance. I deposited $25 and sent it off to E Fund.

I paid all of the bills I have received, subtracted my automatic payments (life insurance and Roth IRA) and sent $420 to Curveball. As always, I am still waiting to receive my Citi MC statement. I had too much left in checking! I love it when I have that problem. To solve it, I sent an extra $216.17 off to CurveBall. I may send a bit extra to Citi MC too, but will have to buy groceries before I decide on that.

CurveBall's balance didn't advance too much as I pulled out money for my new fence. The new fence is in and looks great. My cost ended up being $400, not $350 as I posted earlier. I had forgotten that I have an extra section of fence which I do not share with the neighbor. The neighbor called and said he had not counted that part, but said they would go ahead and replace that too while they were at it for an extra $50. I agreed as I felt that was fair.

So far this month, I am doing fine on my budget.





October 2012 Budget Report

November 4th, 2012 at 08:58 am



I did not make my budgeted savings contribution, using the money to cover October's Visa bill.

I'm quite pleased with how my spending went. In November, my Visa bill is going to be less than $300. Smile I will have no trouble whatsoever with paying it in full and making my budgeted savings deposit.

My utilites were under $500! I now have credit balances on both my PG & E (gas) and MID (electric) accounts. PG & E just adjusted my balanced bill pay amount from $62 to $43. November will be the first month I pay $43. I have received my MID bill for November too, and my balanced bill pay has not adjusted yet. I currently have a credit balance of $100 odd dollars and I must pay another $238. Since we are going into winter when the bill is much lower I've been expecting it to adjust down. My Ting bill was $35.27 in October. I am loving Ting. Smile

I ended the pay period with $16 plus coins in my wallet. I withdrew my cash allowance of $60 for the next pay period, then sent $20 off to E Fund.

September 2012 Budget Report

October 11th, 2012 at 07:01 pm

I'm really late this month, but here it is:

A Tsunami of 10 Day Paychecks

September 8th, 2012 at 10:55 am

I am paid by the hour, kind of. I am paid for 8 hours per day. I am not paid extra when I work more than 8 hours (except during tax season), and I am not docked when I work less than 8 hours (including our half-day Fridays all summer long.)

Most pay periods are for 11 work days. There is the occasional 12 day (hoorah!) and 10 day (boo!) pay period.

I budget based on 11 day pay periods. So if there is extra pay or less pay, it impacts my checking account cushion, but not my budget.

I have recently enjoyed a 12 day paycheck. However, I am about to experience three 10 day paychecks, in a row. This is unprecedented in my little world. And more to the point, this shortfall is going to have to come from somewhere.

I have just received my Visa bill, ridiculously large this month (car insurance, emergency vet bill, and new lap top in addition to regular charges). I had been thinking I would pull from CurveBall to cover it. Along with my budgeted $420 CurveBall deposit in September plus the $400 + utilities I would normally pay that would just about cover it. But wait, this assumes I receive the income I have budgeted, and I am not going to receive the full amount of income.

Bleah! I do not want to transfer a single additional cent to Citi MC, but this is what I am facing.

August 2012 Budget Report

September 1st, 2012 at 04:46 pm



So it's going OK without Mint. I am finding Wells Fargo's budgeting tool to be less than ideal. It has preset categories, and you cannot edit them or add new ones. You cannot split a single transaction into more than one category. And you cannot import any transactions from any account which is not a Wells Fargo account. So I'm not going to be using it. Instead, I just used Excel and entered all of my cleared transactions into my spreadsheet (I summed them in the column to the right of what you see here). I had to do this for both my checking account and my Chase Freedom Visa.

I changed my "Visa Allowance/Everything Else" combo to "Gasoline/Everything Else". They still total $600.

August was so ugly. "Everything Else" includes $623 for the emergency vet bill, $558 for my car insurance, $406 for my new laptop, $110 for J's yearbook, student ID card, & gym clothes, $71 to file my small claims suit and have the defendent served, and $47 in medical copays.

I am starting September with an almost full tank of gas.

My office was closed yesterday too, so I am enjoying a nice 4 day weekend. Smile

Yesterday I went to get my eyebrows done. It had been 2 months and it was time. I have a girlfriend who has 2 small children and we just don't get together like we used to before she had children. We go together to be threaded and use the time to catch up. She reminded me that the last time we went, she didn't have any cash and so I paid for both of us. I had forgotten that. So, she paid for me yesterday. So far, my cash allowance which must last until next payday 9/14 is still untouched.

On Friday, my paycheck was for 12 days. I was pleased, until I looked at the calendar and saw both of my next paychecks will be for 10 days.

Also on Friday, I did a wallet sweep and added $15 to Mini E-Fund.

My daughter texted me yesterday saying money will be tight this month, so was it OK if she repaid me another $120 instead of the remaining $240. I agreed. That will go into Mini E-Fund and then it will be back to $500. I believe I will begin adding my small deposits to E Fund.

Tuesday is my daughter's 22nd birthday. I will be taking her out to lunch on Monday to a mid-Eastern restaurant. They serve the most delicious sun-dried tomato hummus, as well as a chicken dish made with saffron and grilled veggies. That is what I will be having. Smile

First Raise in 3 Years!! :)

July 31st, 2012 at 05:38 pm

And it was a welcome surprise, too. It is not a large raise, it equates to an additional $60 per month in take home pay. It is going into savings.

In other good news, I was able to buy my replacement car remote battery for $1.38. Thanks, Lucky Robin! That was a great tip. Smile

I have been thinking about my circumstances, and I have decided to make no mortgage chips whatsoever at this time. Instead, I will focus on increasing my cash accounts and my Roth. Now, paying my mortgage online makes it difficult to resist rounding up a bit. To avoid this temptation, I set up an automatic transfer for my mortgage payments. They will be paid on the 5th of each month, without a single extra cent.

So here is my budget for August and going forward:




Budget Report 7/31/12

July 31st, 2012 at 05:24 pm



Utilities are over again. I expected this as the charge for my early termination fee posted. I expect it next month too, because this month I switched from AT & T internet to Comcast internet, and they will bill me $120 for a modem. Why would I do this? Well, even though I am paying $48 some months and $58 other months for high-speed internet, that isn't what the test says. The test says I am getting less than 1 mbps. Less than 1! No, thanks. My new Comcast internet is much faster (haven't tested it, but it is a noticeable difference) and I will be paying $33 per month, but plus taxes I think. So I will save the cost of the modem in 6 or 8 months, and then be ahead. And much better service all the while. Smile

Still need to improve on groceries, or admit that I can't and budget accordingly.

Everything else this month is just 2 items, my car registration ($138) and my garage door repair ($168). I needed a new spring. I could have replaced only the broken spring for $116, but it seemed smarter to replace its twin at the same time. I went over, but I did not pull from CurveBall to cover either of these. Smile

Escrow Refund On Its Way

July 17th, 2012 at 06:23 pm

I emailed Wells Fargo's customer service yesterday about my escrow account, asking for an analysis. I received a reply today that there is $854.09 too much in there and I will be receiving a check in a week or two. When that comes, I will go ahead and send it on to my Chase Freedom Visa. So it looks like no further balance transfer checks nor dips into CurveBall will be necessary. Yay! Now I have to tackle that Citi MC.

I did my secret shop this morning, and have another one scheduled tonight. The one tonight pays $10 plus reimburses me if I have to buy the product. (I may not need to, that is the point of this particular shop. They want to know if the store is selling popular items before the actual release date.)

My garage door has decided to stop opening. I suspect it needs a new spring. I have scheduled a repair person for Friday afternoon.

I have a situation in my hall bathroom. Someone installed the tub/shower combo incorrectly, and water was leaking into the wall. The gap has now been sealed, but I am suspicious about what may be lurking in the wall. I am going to have someone who knows what they are doing come and take a look. I hope there is no expensive repair required, but if there is, then there is. I don't think it is wise to put off a repair of that sort if it is warranted. I'm not sure how I will fund it, but first I need to find out if there is damage or not.

The battery in my car key remote has died. I have had my car 7 years now, so that is reasonable I suppose. I can lock the car just fine by, gasp, inserting the key and turning my wrist. However, I can't set the alarm. I'm not certain how much that will set me back.

So now you know everything. Stick Out Tongue

Another Weekend Whizzes By

July 15th, 2012 at 02:26 pm

On Friday, I did not leave work until 4pm, even though we closed at noon. I continue to fight an uphill battle trying to keep everything caught up.

Friday was payday, so I did a wallet sweep. I had $9 in bills plus coins to deposit, but the line was so long I just deposited the bills at the ATM and saved the coins for another time. This wallet sweep went to Mini E-Fund.

My paycheck was for only 10 days for the second time in a row! The next one will be for 12, but I still lose one day on the deal. My net pay went down exactly $20 as I expected, due to bumping up my Simple IRA contribution by $25.

Yesterday I drove up to camp to pick up J. The camp is located a bit more than 3 hours away. It was his third year and he had another fabulous time. By the time he shows me around and I chat with counselors, a few hours slip by. So picking him up is an all day event.

Today I sat down to pay bills and make transfers. It felt great to transfer $359 to CurveBall. Smile It did not feel so great to write a big check to Chase Freedom. I paid most of the balance, but wrote a balance transfer check from Citi MC for $433. They are no longer offering me 0%, but did offer me 1.99%. I could have looked for another 0% offer from someone else, but I don't want to have a balance here, there, and everywhere. I also have to pay a 3% balance transfer fee. Mathematically, it would have made more sense to skip the CurveBall transfer and just squeeze out another $433. However, my savings is already below my comfort zone, so I didn't do that.

When I get my August statement, I will be facing the same choice. Not all of my vacation charges had posted before the statement cut off and I do not pay charges which are not yet on the statement.

My car insurance is due 8/5. I will charge it just before it is due, then that charge will show up on September's statement. Car insurance money will be coming from CurveBall.

I also received my last AT & T wireless bill! I was expecting it to be for $114, early termination fee on J's contract. It was for $122, which was a $110 early termination fee plus $12 in "taxes". It will automatically bill my credit card at the end of the month, and that is it, all done.

My car registration was due this month to the tune of $138. I did not pull from CurveBall for this, it fits neatly inside "Everything Else". I just have to watch my Everything Else spending this month, since there isn't much left.

So lots of money out. What about money in?

When my new mortgage closed, I expected a new escrow account would fund and my old escrow account would be returned to me. Instead, the new escrow money went into the old escrow account. A few days after closing, they transferred my old escrow account into my new one. It now has way too much money. I expect they will refund about 1k.

No payment from daughter and son-in-law yet.

Ex-h will reimburse half of J's camp ($242.50) at some point.

I need to decide if I am going to pursue recovering half of the cost of my new fence ($630) from my neighbor or not. Even though by law she should share the cost, I know it will make her angry and she will likely try to cause more problems. I'm not sure it is worth it.

I signed up for a secret shop this morning. I don't do them often but this one is for a business just 2 blocks from my office. It is a fast food restaurant. I will have to spend my own money, but will be reimbursed plus paid $5. It is an easy shop.

I should spend the rest of my day doing chores around the house. We'll see if that happens or not.

June 2012 Budget Report

July 12th, 2012 at 06:34 pm

Well, it's not my best month, but here it is:



My comments:

Wages - Had a 10 day pay period.

Utilities - This includes the cost of J's and my new Ting cell phones. It also includes a month of Ting's service on top of a month of AT & T's service. With AT & T, you pay after you have received service. With Ting, you pay before. I am still expecting an early termination fee of $114, but I haven't been billed for that yet.

Groceries - Not as great as it seems, since we were gone for the last week. We purchased groceries on vacation too, but I threw that in with other vacation expenses.

Visa allowance - I picked up a few clothing items for J and for myself. I did not count these under vacation.

Everything Else - Wowza. This includes $485 for J's summer camp, $101 for the dentist, an oil change, and $3745 on vacation. This number includes the $800 cash I withdrew from Vacation Fund before we left.

The biggest single expense in there was a decision I made after arriving. One of the main things J and I really wanted to do was to go on a Lost tour. We are fans of the show, it was filmed mostly on Oahu, and you can take a tour of many of their shoot sites. Well, since we arrived in Oahu around noon on one day, planned to see Pearl Harbor the next, and were flying on to the big island at noon on the third day, there just wasn't going to be time. This was a huge mistake on my part, I should have had the agent book us one more day on Oahu and one day less on the big island to start with. But, I didn't. So on the day we arrived, I made the decision to change our accommodations and take the 8 hour Lost tour. Between the tour, changing air tickets, and paying for another night at the hotel at the regular rate (the package rate didn't apply), it was expensive. I regret the extra expense I caused myself by not planning better, but I don't regret that tour; it was fabulous. I think I would have really regretted going to Hawaii and not taking that tour.

The second biggest expense in there was scuba diving. My cousin's family was going, and J really wanted to do it too. I was a little hesitant for him to go, so I asked BF to go along and I treated him. That was only right as BF had not planned to scuba dive. I felt reassured to know BF would be J's diving partner and would be keeping a close eye on him. There are instructors diving too, of course, who also monitor everyone. So the scuba diving for two set me back $500.

Even though some of my vacation spending did not post until July, I have included it all in June. I thought it made sense to have it grouped together.

So, there you have it.

Ting Phones Activated; New Budget

June 19th, 2012 at 06:46 pm

I activated the two phones I purchased new from Ting this evening. UPS says my package is arriving tomorrow. So assuming the seller didn't just send me a box of rocks, I should be able to activate that one tomorrow. My new monthly cell bill will be $41 plus taxes. Buh-bye, AT & T!

Here is my new monthly budget starting in July (except that in July I will pay off Citi MC and pay for Ting phones and breaking contract with AT & T, since no mortgage payment is due).




Isn't this a nice change? Look at that new monthly deposit to savings number! This is much, MUCH better. Smile

Other changes:

*smaller take home pay, since I will be bumping up my Simple IRA contributions by $50 per month. I estimate this will cost me $40 in take home pay.

*new lower mortgage payment

*new lower utilities budget, which I totally think I can do!

*gym membership is gone for now. I am walking the trail near my house and using Wii Fit instead.

*monthly Roth contribution is going up.

I am so tickled about these changes. I am looking forward to updating my sidebar under "Debts". That's how you know for certain that I am a nerd.

Successfully Purchased Used Ting Flip Phone

June 18th, 2012 at 05:12 pm

Well, I was able to purchase a flip phone for my mom used, from another Ting customer. He made a small profit at my expense, but I am still ahead, so I am OK with that. The phone shipped today and should be in my hot little hands in the next day or two.

I was a bit nervous about the transaction, because what if the other party stiffed me? But he forwarded his confirmation email from Ting from when he purchased the phone, so I knew that he had one a few weeks ago. That made me feel better. He emailed me Saturday that he had received the cashier's check I mailed him, and that he would ship the phone today. I checked with UPS and he did ship me a package this afternoon. So I guess my gamble has paid off.

Tonight I need to charge the phones I bought for J and myself, then make sure I have a good list of all my contact phone numbers. I don't know if I can simply transfer the data or not. But I don't have a whole lot of numbers in my phone, so if I have to key them in again, its no big deal.

I am anxious now to get my service switched over and start enjoying my new much lower cell bill.

Yesterday I bought myself a big floppy hat and some water shoes, as well as a couple of brightly colored shirts. I picked up a few things for J as well. I paid for them with gift cards I got for free as a credit card sign up bonus. I just love credit card rewards!

Tonight I plan to swing by Target and pick up some snorkeling gear. It will be cheaper to buy our own than to rent by the hour. Maybe I will try to sell it as we are leaving. I surely don't have much use for it at home.

I transferred $800 from vacation fund to checking, which I will withdraw over the next few days. I will try to spend no more than that, so that the rest of the money in Vacation Fund will be the start of our next vacation. But if I go over, then I do. Some of the activities are expensive. I try to choose wisely, but can't say no to everything. If I did that, we might as well just stay home.

I pulled $485 from CurveBall for J's camp. I had put it on my Visa and it was time to pay up. Ex-h says he will pay half but it will be over the next few months. Whatever.

My brother had 2 new grandbabies on the same day last week. The babies are cousins. One of my nieces had a c-section scheduled, her sister went into early labor the same day. The babies were born in the same hospital, too. We have some sweet pictures of them all swaddled and lying next to each other. Both babies are perfectly healthy. That makes an even dozen grandbabies for my brother! And 15 great nieces and nephews for me. Smile If I never have a grandchild of my own to spoil, I will spoil the greats instead.

May 2012 Budget Report

June 1st, 2012 at 10:25 am



I'm not too displeased with how I did in May. The huge overage in "Everything Else" is due to paying for vacation (planned and saved for), paying for son's summer camp (planned and saved for), and lending $500 to daughter and son-in-law (unplanned). If not for those, I would be under $200. What is left is the dentist and medical co-pays.

But I've been slipping in groceries. I've been a little too willing to pick up convenience foods at the grocery store, and even take n bake pizza at Papa Murphy's. And it shows. So, I've got to knock that off and stay under $450.

Cell Phone Plans

May 10th, 2012 at 09:10 am

So I have about a month to go until the contract on my line and my mom's line is up. J's line has another year and 3 months to go.

This month, my bill was $148.77. This is an improvement (!) because I am no longer getting those $2 charges for data access (accidentally hitting the button, not actually accessing the web!). Currently, I have AT & T.

I have been pricing T Mobile this morning. I can get a 3 line plan with 1000 daytime minutes, unlimited nights & weekends, and unlimited text, including insurance, for $94.77 per month plus tax (I think). This would be a savings of $40ish dollars per month.

I would have to pay a $105 activation fee ($35 per line). To leave AT & T early will cost me an early termination fee on J's line of $150 less $4 per full month of service, which should equal $114.

If I wait, the early termination fee will eventually go away, but the activation fee will not. Meanwhile, I will still be spending an additional $40ish dollars per month.

I think it is worth paying 1 early termination fee. It is not worth paying 3, so I can't switch just yet.

How about the insurance? It costs $4.78 per month per phone. Maybe I should just get it on J's phone? That would trim another $9.56 per month.

Do you pay for cell phone insurance?

April 2012 Budget Report

April 30th, 2012 at 04:46 pm



I received my seasonal over-time and bonus this month, so that is where the extra money came from.

"Everything Else" this month included son's allowance and the dentist.

All in all, not my best spending month, but not too awful, either.

March 2012 Budget Report

April 4th, 2012 at 05:11 pm



Well, it isn't pretty, but here it is.

My utilities are UGLY. I had to trim back on savings and credit card debt to accommodate my new, bigger, balanced bill pay amounts, and I still went over! I have paid my last home phone bill, so that will help some. I expect my electric and gas usage to go down now that there is one less person in the house. And I am seeing that already, it will just take some time for the reduced usage to impact my balanced bill pay plans. I'm still not completely sold on the whole balanced bill idea, but I'm going to leave it be for now.

Also in utilites, my cell phone bill is too darn high. I have called to see if I can get a lower bill, but I really can't at the moment. My contract is up in June for my line and my mom's line. J's line still has more than a year to go. AT&T is much more expensive than T-Mobile. I just want to go back to T-Mobile! My bill in March was $166, which included several $2 per use data charges. I had asked to have data blocked! When I called, I was told that it isn't blocked, but they will be happy to block it. If I accessed the web from my phone, it was only because I accidentally hit the wrong button. I have tons of roll-over minutes too, but I have the lowest amount of minutes which includes unlimited nights and weekends. If I bump down (from 700 to 550), then night and weekend calls will have to come from those 550 minutes. For 3 people, that seems like not enough.

"Everything Else" this time around is mostly for pharmacy and dr. co-pays, but does include a video game for J.

My Visa spending in March was fine, but February's bill had to be paid and CurveBall is poor again.

In all honesty, after all that has happened in the last 6 weeks, I am just grateful to have no new credit card debt.

Groceries was way too high. I picked up too many convenience foods, and picked up take n bake pizza a few times as well.

So that's how it went. I am determined to do better in April.

January 2012 Budget Report

January 31st, 2012 at 04:30 pm



I think I deserve a big fat gold star for January! Smile

Dental Costs, Budget Progress, Big Picture Thinking

January 22nd, 2012 at 10:01 am

The dental appointment went very well! Since I have been a patient for a long time (decade or so), and since I was paying cash, they gave me a special rate. $75 for my cleaning and x-rays! That was slightly less expensive than paying $80 for insurance, then $36 at each bi-annual cleaning.

The dental copay for J was just $10. I'm going to mention to ex-h that J went to the dentist, but I'm not going to ask him to kick in half. I don't want him to feel nickeled and dimed, and I need him to come through without a fuss when larger expenses roll around. (We don't split everything. For example, I buy all of J's clothes. I receive child support, so we agreed that was fair. But we agreed that medical copays and extras such as summer camp would be split.)

My mammogram had no co-pay at all! Quite reasonable. Smile

I'm on track to come in at or under budget on every category for January. The only "overage" is on the mortgage, because I chipped $5. I don't mind that at all.

Now that I plan to refi and start all over on a 30 year mortgage, I think I need to face the reality that I likely will not have my mortgage paid in full by age 65. Hopefully though, I will have a nice chunk of equity at that point. So perhaps a better plan for me is to downsize. I may have enough equity to purchase a 2 bedroom condo outright.

Bill Paying Evening

January 18th, 2012 at 10:50 pm

Tonight I finally got around to paying all of the bills for the month (except Citi MC which arrives around the 25th). I paid everything, transferred $179 to CurveBall, $100 to my Roth, $50 to vacation savings, and have $339.10 left. Still to come in this month is child support on the 25th ($226) and then payday on the 31st. So I will make it just fine, even with the small paycheck on the 15th.

Tomorrow I will take J to the dentist. He is on his father's dental plan which changed recently, so I am not sure what to expect when it comes time to pay. We will see. J's father will reimburse me half, as per our agreement. Also, the dentist stopped taking my dental plan, and my dental plan was discontinued. (Happened a few months apart, I am not certain if the two events are related or not.) I am not certain what I am going to do. I really like the dentist. My family has been going to him for years. I suppose I will speak with them to see what dental plans they accept and then shop for a new plan. My old plan cost $80 per year and when I had my cleanings, I would pay about $36. I have surfed a little, and some plans are as much as $45 per month. I found some others similar to my old plan, but my dentist doesn't take them. I suppose I will be switching dentists.

Work is so hectic right now. It is just a busy time of year, plus our receptionist/secretary has been out sick all week. My office is very small. There are two partners (CPAs), one full-time staff accountant (moi), one part-time staff accountant, and one full time secretary/receptionist. That is it. So when the rec/sec is out, the other staff accountant and I have to answer the phones and run downstairs every time the front door opens. Until she leaves for the day, then it is all me. Of course, I still have to get all of my work done. My time is already very saturated, so juggling the phone calls and front door as well really makes for a difficult time.

On Friday I will be having my annual mammogram. I'm not sure what my copay is, but I will gladly pay it.

BF was here over the weekend but has gone back to his place now. He and I, J, and J's friend went to the Chabot Space & Science Center in Oakland on Saturday. We went through a group in which J participates, so the tickets were courtesy of them. We did a scavenger hunt and had a meeting time in a private room with snacks. They were accepting donations and I donated $20 as I had planned. The kids had a great time and it was very interesting. They have a couple of telescopes and we were able to view Venus.

First Money In, 2012

January 8th, 2012 at 10:47 am

I was looking at my checking account balance, and looking forward to my first paycheck of the new year, when I realized it will be a 10 day paycheck. Bleah! January will be a little tighter than I had thought. Thankfully, the second paycheck of the new year will be a 12 day paycheck.

I received an email from Geico that my next car insurance policy is available for my viewing pleasure. I logged on and was very pleased to note that the price has dropped approximately $100! Yay. I can't complain much about that.

I am getting ready to get J off to his dad's, his first day back to school tomorrow, and myself off to work. Last year, I racked up 78.25 hours of OT. This year, I expect to rack up more as my responsibilities keep snowballing. (At times, I find this frustrating.) Last year, between OT pay and my bonus, I cleared 4k (just barely). I have my income tax refund on the horizon too. It is time to begin considering how best to use this extra 6k - 7k. I will give $300 to J (his annual "allowance"). But other than that, every cent of it will go to some savings account, retirement account, or debt. My task is to slice it up wisely. I must send a minimum of $1800 off to my Roth, as that is the shortfall between my budgeted monthly contribution and my planned minimum annual contribution.

So I suppose I am thinking:

$1900 CurveBall
1800 Roth
1000 Traditional
700 Vacation
300 Mortgage
300 J
-----
$6000 Total

I "borrowed" $700 from Vacation a few months back, and would like to repay it.

BTW, J tucks his allowance into his mutual fund account and his savings account. What a good kid. Wink



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