1 Million Dollars

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Grocery goal still not met, but I am getting better!

I'm improving, I'm improving!

I am not hitting my grocery goals of $49/week, but I am under my normal weekly budget of $66 so at least I am not making it worse?  Over the last three weeks I averaged 53.61, this was better than the previous three weeks (those weeks averaged $55.33).  This means I have cut the $400 overage by $69.18 to $331 over the last month and half.  Still not good enough, but slowly we are getting there.  I might even have a three week period of spending less than $45/week by the end of the year. However, if I don't I need to now aim for $48/week, not $49.

We were able to cut our spending at the meat market to $4 but we were out of town for one of the weekends.  I do expect it to go back up to $6 for the next three weeks.  However we spent $23 at grocery stores while we were out of town, to avoid eating out all the time.  Given that we won't be out of town for the next three weeks, I'll count this as a win.

We did very badly at Wegmans and spent $109.81 and I had wanted to only spend $92 max.  I am not sure what I can do to cut this down farther, but I am going to try.
I did cut BJ's warehouse to $5 in this three month period, but for the next I have a couple stock ups so I expect to spend about $20.  I also doubt we will be going to the asian grocery store in the next three weeks, like we did this round ($10) because the items we bought should last more than a month and half.   We only spent $8 at trader joe's but because we will be home, I assume that will doubt for the next round.  I spent $9 at Tops and expect to spend a little more because just for this week the deals look good, so let's say $30 for the next round. 

Based on all the other spending, if I was to aim for $48 average, I'd only get $72 to spend at wegmans this weekend.  However, if I only looked the budgeted weekly amount of $66, I'd get $132.  I'll be making my list (and checking it twice) and we will see how low I can go!

Friday, August 15, 2014

Carnival of Financial Planning, my FIRST Carnival Hosting!


BUDGETING AND ECONOMICS

Ben Luthi @ The Wealth Gospel writes You Might Be a Personal Finance Blogger If... - Let’s face it. We the personal finance bloggers of the Internets are a completely different breed of human beings. We spend basically all of our waking moments thinking about money and scheming new angles to take on this or that. We range from the commonsensical (that’s totally a word! yay!) to the ridiculous. Here are some fun examples of it

Michelle @ Making Sense of Cents writes How To Get A Cruise For FREE! - Cruises do not need to be expensive. There are many different ways to score a cheap or even sometimes a free vacation.

John @ firststep finance writes How To Choose The Best Auto Insurance – Part 1 - Car insurance is at the top of the totem pole for anyone who owns a vehicle. You may find yourself completely overwhelmed when you are searching for insurance. Read on to find some useful tips on how to sort through all the information so that you can get the right amount of coverage for the best price. If you drive fewer miles per year, your insurance rates will decrease. The majority of car insurance companies offer a discount for drivers who log less miles. When purchasing auto insurance fo

Alexa @ Defeat Our Debt writes Should You Take a Vacation if You’re in Debt? - Your debt is stressing you out. Work is stressing you out. And you just need a little break from the normal day to day grind.

Brad @ Enemy of Debt writes Don't be sloppy with your money: make sure to get what is due to you - I lived with debt for quite a few years before we reached a crisis point and dealt with it once and for all.

Monica @ Monica On Money writes The Top 10 Tips for Finding Extra Work to Pay off Debt - If you want to pay off debt, finding extra work is a great way to go about it.

Cat @ Budget Blonde writes Become a Paid Freelance Blogger Coaching Program - Have you ever wanted to be a writer online? Like, a real, legitimate people-pay-you for your words type of writer?

Danielle @ TeacHer Finance writes Top 5 Ways to Save $100.00 this week, and every week - These days $100 might not seem like a lot of money but, if you are able to save $100 a week, at the end of the year you would have $5200 that you could put towards paying down debt, putting towards an emergency fund or towards your 401(k) or IRA.

Justin @ Edward Antrobus writes The Habits of the Rich, Part 2 - Unless you're part of the 1% of people that are born into wealth, there's simply no way to become wealthy by accident.

Marissa @ Finance Triggers writes What is the Legal Entity Identifier (LEI) initiative? - The Legal Entity Identifier (LEI) is a global initiative that aims to create a global reference data system that can identify each individual legal entity or structure that is party to a financial transaction, whatever its jurisdiction.

Katie @ IRA Basics writes When and How to Start IRA Withdrawals - Hopefully, when you went to open an IRA, you did so with the intention of using it for long term retirement needs.

Bob @ Dwindling Debt writes Getting ready to Grill? Here are some Tips to help you Save Money - Another Fourth of July has passed us by, heralding the start of the summer season and the grilling season as well.

Hadley @ Epic Finances writes Three Sectors to Invest in Now - Experts say that here in the United States a manufacturing renaissance is beginning to take off.

Amy @ Money Mishaps writes Windows or A/C? Annual Summer Debate - A gallon of gas is just about four dollars anywhere you go in the United States, meaning that families will be shelling out more money this summer when they hit the road for summer vacation.

Matt @ Budget Snob writes How to Meet Your Retirement Goals - Retirement is an all too elusive goal for many people today.

Jay @ Daily Fuel Economy Tip writes Do your Tires really affect your gas Mileage? - Did you know however that the size of your tires, their weight and the type of tread that they have all impact fuel efficiency as well?

Daniel @ Make Money Make Cents writes How Online Trading Platforms Work - If you're taking your very first steps as an online trader then you've probably already come across trading platforms, but you may be wondering exactly what they are and how they work.

Gretchen @ Retired by 40! writes Why Should Everyone Elope? - Our elopement was born out of circumstances, but I believe that eloping is beneficial for everyone. Find out why!


CAREER AND INCOME

Erastus @ Sprout Wealth writes Dividend Paying Stocks: One Way to Make Money in the Stock Market - Dividend paying stocks provide a great way to make income from your investing. I share some things to look out for when looking to earn money through them.


INVESTING AND SAVING

Here is a brief explanation: A stock is an investment in the equity of a company. When you purchase a stock, you become @ The Money Template writes How to Understand Stocks and Use Them to Make Money - http://themoneytemplate.com/how-to-understand-stocks/

John @ firststep finance writes How To Choose The Best Auto Insurance – Part 2 - Try removing coverage items from your policy. If you have a car that is not of high monetary value, you may just want to cover your car with liability insurance. Remove this coverage from your insurance and you could save a large amount every month. Also consider getting rid of liability coverage and comprehensive coverage. Investigate monthly insurance rates before deciding which car to purchase. Keep in mind that the safer your car is, the lower your insurance rates will be. Sporty cars, howe


RETIREMENT AND TAXATION

Michael Kitces @ Nerd's Eye View writes Shiller CAPE Market Valuation: Terrible For Market Timing, But Valuable For Long-Term Retirement Planning - The Shiller CAPE has never been a great indicator of market timing, yet it is valuable for long-term retirement planning. This post explains the short-term and long-term predictive values of CAPE as well as the value of CAEP (Cyclically-Adjusted Earnings to Price ratio) before providing a conclusion as to the relevance of the Shiller CAPE for financial planning decisions. Hint: the Shiller CAPE can help provide insight as to whether or not a prospective retiree will be facing a “headwind” or

Saturday, August 2, 2014

Updated Millionaire Plan August 2014

This month we increased our retirement savings from $625 per month to $722/ month by decreasing our costs.  We changed daycares on July 21st and our daughter is now a toddler, both of which saved us some money.  We also, if you remember, called and asked for a discount on our internet (saving $5).  I also reviewed the budget and noticed that I was spending less in school costs so moved that savings ($18) to our retirement savings.  We also had $67 sent from our credit card rewards into my Roth IRA.  Yet, all that only ended up raising our savings $215 because the market dropped.  We have $20971 in retirement.  So close to $21000, but not there.  I really just wanted to call up Fidelity and add in the $29.  :)
Honestly, though, a little drop in not an issue for a young investor because all that means is that you are able to buy more shares, cheaper.  Since our daughter will be in the cheaper daycare all month, our retirement savings amount is going to be higher in August ($793) so I am sure we will break the $21000 mark.  What I am not sure about, is if we will break $25,000 this year.  I am very hopeful that we will by December but I am not sure.  Hopefully the market will be nice to me in the end.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

First three weeks of my new grocery plan: Complete

So, as I look back over the last three weeks, I did not achieve either of my goals, either my safety goal or my reach goal.  See my previous post on my goal and why my goal is $50 or less and my plan for achieving it here: http://frugalstudents.blogspot.com/2014/07/biannual-review-time.html .

I am disappointed in myself and sort of worried that we won't make it.  We spent $92 at wegmans, $23 at trader joe's, $12 at the meat store, $11 at tops market and $28 at BJ's warehouse for a total of $166 for three weeks.  This averages out to $55.33/week.  That means I have to spend less than $45/week for three weeks to make up for this OR find a way to consistently spend less than $49/week for the rest of the year.

So what caused this higher spending?  First, I neglected to account our spending at the meat market. Also, I found a few more items that were cheaper at BJ's than wegmans's, including one that was only cheaper because of a coupon BJ's sent me.  Third, we went through our fruits and vegetables faster than I expected and we did a top off at trader joe's.  Fourth, tops had a sale on my sodas in two litters and I stocked up.  I am noticing a trend here, I stock up ALOT.

So, what is my next step?  Well, logically I won't need to spend as much at BJ's because we have stocked up but what if I find another deal?  Maybe I should leave that amount alone for now?  Given that I neglected to even think about the spending at the meat store tells me I should take a closer look, and maybe cut that down.  My goal will be to cut that by half, down to $6.  Next, because of those larger purchases I am hoping to spend less than $92 next week at wegmans.  The best goal would be $67 but I don't think is possible so I am going to try to spend less than $92 at wegmans.  Combined this should set me up to spend no more than an average of $50/week. 

This does not mean I'll break even, I'll still be over budget BUT I think that I will do better by slowly cutting down than any huge cut.  I had a hard time the last three weeks with not just saying screw it and going out to eat and that costs me more than a $16 extra dollars I spent.  There is also a chance I'll spend nothing at tops over the next few weeks because that depends on the sale and deals and sometimes those just are not there.  I am going to get used to the first $16 cut and then work my way down as needed. 

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Making Applesauce for the First Time

This year our apple tree is dropping small apples that are ripe but a bit sour.  I don't want to waste them but the sour taste is not great.  But, I could fix the sour taste with sugar, I think.  So, I went to my favorite cooking blog, A year of Slow Cooking and looked for the applesauce recipe.  I found it here: http://crockpot365.blogspot.com/2008/09/crockpot-applesauce-recipe.html

So, as I sit here typing the slow cooker is cooking a bunch of apples into home made applesauce.   We had all the ingredients in our kitchen so we are getting an extra side dish for basically free.  Given that I want to stretch our food budget this is great!

 If it does not work, oh well, I tried.  If it does we have a whole new side dish that we can work in to our meals for extremely cheap.  You never know until you try.  So what has everyone else been trying new, to save money or otherwise?


Saturday, July 19, 2014

Saving money just by asking

As we were looking at our budget one thing that jumped out at us was the internet bill.  Even with the $5 savings by bundling it with our cell phone we still pay $40/month.  But verizon had discontued dryloop so even if we went down in speed we could not save money.  Or so I thought.  I mentioned this problem on the MMM forum (http://forum.mrmoneymustache.com/ask-a-mustachian/) and was told about dsl extreme.  However, the discounted rate was $24.95 for a year plus a $2.88 fee and then it jumped up to $34.95/month.  Did I want to do this, especially when it meant buying a new router?  Not really, but what other choice did I have? 

So, I turned to my husband and asked him to call verizon and let them know that we were wanting to switch to a new company because of the price, could they do anything to keep us from leaving?  And they did!  Not much, only $5/month and only for a year but where else can you save $60 for ten minutes worth of work.  That is $360/hour, I know I don't earn that much. 

Has anyone else saved money just by asking?  Who can you think to ask for a deal?  The worst anyone can say is no and if you don't ask, the answer is already no.

Monday, July 14, 2014

Biannual Review Time!!!!

My husband and I are in the process of organizing our ENTIRE life, including our finances.  One way to do so is to have an fiscal review time.  Back when I was staying home we reviewed the finances monthly, but honestly I did not have time once school and our daughter came.  So we decided we would get together and review our finances twice a year, once during the summer and once during winter break.

However, after this review I don't think we are reviewing enough and we need to be more in touch than we have been.  So, bad news first, we are $400 over in spending for groceries.  Wow, that is six whole weeks of grocery spending. Thankfully we did our review before our major grocery shopping trip and because of finding this out, we made some changes.  Normally we do a major grocery trip every other week and then go to trader joe's for fruit and other items only at trader joe's the opposing week.  We also do runs to cvs and tops market when there are good deals.  Part of the problem was that there have not been many good deals from cvs so we have been spending our normal cash on non-food items like paper towels, bathroom tissue and such.  Also, I have not been spending as much time getting the gift cards from mypoints as I could because my life has been so crazy busy.  But, I need to organize myself because I can't be that crazy busy for more than six months without changing something about my life.  But we will get back to that later.  What are we doing to save that $400?

Well, we cut out all of the "fat" from our grocery budget and were about to get down to $92 for the next two weeks.  But, I think we can stretch that food to three weeks if we hit trader joe's and our new store BJ's warehouse.  Our new plan will not include a major run every two week, but every three weeks, allowing for a run to BJ's warehouse and trader joe's in the weeks between, which does mean stretching the time between trader joe's visits as well.  This should save us some time as well.  Even if we spend high at trader joe's and average at BJ's, we will average about $41/week for the next three weeks if this works.  This does mean that we are eating out of the freezer and cupboard at lot so we won't be able to keep this low of spending but we should be able to get close to my goal of $50/week for the rest of the year this way, I think.  I will be reviewing this in three weeks to see how we did and I will report back!  I am also on the looking for more meals that can be made cheaply.  We also will be relying on our very small garden.

Because of our schedules our garden is mostly dead.  We have one tomato plant holding on, two basil plants barely holding on, our apple tree and the multiple blackberry bushes.  Right now this means I can get a few basil leaves a week and a small handful of blackberries every day.  I am going to use the blackberries to stretch our budget.  Then, when the apples come in, we will do the same with those.  We are lucky to have these fruits that will really help our budget, but that is not just luck.  Part of why we chose this house was the tree and we planted the blackberries three years ago because I know I don't have a green thumb.  Blackberries are one of those plants that acts like a weed and is very hard to kill.  If you don't have much time, or are like me and kill plants, a blackberry bush can be great if you plan to live in your home for over three years.  Pre-planning when you have time can have great benefits in the future when you become busy. 

But on to the better news!  We ended under budget for miscellaneous expenses, like hair cuts, small appliances, etc which is surprising because we had to buy a new printer and I thought that would mean going over.  One of the reason I try to be strict with myself is so if issues happen I don't have a major problem.  Guess that did not work on the groceries, sigh.  Again, on to other expenses.  We are within budget for utilities but I would like to cut those down a little more so we are trying to cut down on dryer usage this summer. Everything else is pretty similar to utilities, within budget but I am still looking for more ideas to cut. 

Does anyone have ideas they have used for cutting expenses that they would like to share?  I always say "never assume you can't do better" and therefore am always on the lookout.