October 18, 2010

October Falls

Filed under: birthday,budgets,children,debt,money — by elysianconfusion @ 1:36 pm
Tags: , , , , ,

I keep looking at my chart of how much our debt costs us. It’s Painful! My plus is this: though I haven’t had much to snowball lately, I can still see an increase in the amount of principal I pay in relation to the interest. And I think it’s largely due to my mortgage.

I keep paying the same amount, so now I actually am paying more in principal on the mortgage than in interest (monthly). I *wish* I could fix this rate.

October has been tough again. I think I need to save $100 per month just for birthdays. This seems insane, and I don’t know how it’s possibly true — perhaps I just haven’t really dissected what we spent for my youngest son’s 5th birthday. But if I saved it, it would be there, just in case. I like just in case.

Besides the birthday, we have to pay our town taxes (ouch) and our home owner’s insurance (annual) and for wood. Next month, next month, next month. I feel like that’s all I say. But next month, I think it will all be a lot easier and I will have some money to snowball and we will kick this stupid debt.

Right now, our grand total of debt is $354,485.44. Mortgages, cars, student loans, credit cards. Boom. It’s all there.

Here are my puzzles, chime in with advice, if you please.

#1 — We have 529 plans for the kids but my sense is they’re not the right ones. Help me pick! I’m in Massachusetts, if that makes any difference. The financial advisor appears to be useless and only recommends those related to MFS, without analyzing fees and such. (So maddening, what is she FOR?) Also, for those thinking we’re batty for contributing to college when we should be paying off debt, we’re not. That’s where money goes that people give us for the kids. For right now, for the rest, kids will need scholarships.

#2 My brother-in-law called this weekend to say he wants to hire me to do copy editing and copy writing (free lance). What do I charge?

If anyone has suggestions, I truly hope you will provide them in the comments.



September 14, 2010

3/4 Through the Year

Filed under: birthday,budgets,debt,money — by elysianconfusion @ 11:02 am
Tags: , , ,

How are we doing? Good question.

Well, looks to me like so far this year we’ve made about $40k in payments to loans of one kind or another. About $26,680 was principal, leaving $13,277 in interest. What a waste of money. Honestly, it’s hard to even believe that we paid that much money out in any way at all. I guess the mortgage is at least $12k of the total.

Currently we owe $356,519.60. $271,1146 is house related (mortgage and home equity loan).  $19,757 is student loans. A shocking $17,140 in car loans (that’s two cars, and we just had to replace the tires on one of them– OUCH!). And finally, and truly worst of all, $48,508 in credit cards.

On the other hand (and I need to think positive, because I have to stay motivated and these numbers just depress me), according to my handy-dandy debttracker, we’ve paid off $22,842 in credit cards, $13,583 in mortgage loans, $20,830 in car loans, $8,243 in student loans and $12,302 in home equity. That’s $77,800 from my estimate of high balance…

So officially, down $2,207.98 from last month and $46,918.54 since I started this project in April 2009. Progress feels extremely slow. However, I did pay off preschool for the year, avoiding interest on those payments for this year (annual savings, $400!) and that is our LAST year of preschool. Next year will be kindergarten (pay for full day) and summer camp. That really is a lot less money. When we get to just paying for camp, we might even have to change the FSA deductions. That’s hard to imagine.

We also aren’t in any more debt, nothing is going up. We bought new tires for a car and got discounts because Sears was sloooow and for having some free Sears member card, plus a $70 rebate I’ll mail today. Total savings? $129.80. Not bad.

Now I just have to somehow pay for four more birthday presents this month and October… I’m hoping October we’ll actually have a good snowball going again. Then we’ll kick this debt out! We will!

July 23, 2010

It’s Just Not FAST Enough!

Filed under: birthday,budgets,children,debt,family,money — by elysianconfusion @ 10:36 am

Patience, patience, patience! I don’t have it. I’ve never been good at it (perhaps this explains our debts? I don’t know!)

The new number for this month is 360,968.68. That means we’ll get under 360k next month, which is a good thing. I know people who owe more than that on their houses! In August we also have to pay for all of preschool for next year, $4,000. I’ve mentioned before, this will be a weight off my mind once it’s been paid. I still have to do the paying.

Meanwhile, my budget doesn’t seem to be great. I’ve definitely underestimated the real costs of vacation. I’m having trouble balancing a realistic budget we can stick to and an aggressive enough payment plan.

I did successfully hold down costs for my oldest son’s 7th birthday party. Instead of having a pinata with candy no parent wants, or a goody bag full of stuff the kids will break or throw away immediately. Instead, we had a low-key party in the yard with tents and a campfire, and we all tie dyed shirts that the kids got to take home. I thought it was a lovely party!

Next week we’re on vacation. I keep asking friends how they plan a budget for vacation. You know, they all look at me like I’m nuts. A budget for vacation? They think it’s crazy. But I don’t know how to relax about the money I’m spending on vacation unless I planned for it.

Am I crazy?

October 19, 2009

Where does all the money go?

Filed under: birthday,budgets,children,crazy,debt,family,mess,money,Uncategorized — by elysianconfusion @ 5:39 pm
Tags: ,

I should probably wait more than a month before going back to check our progress. Because for all the money rushing out, it doesn’t feel like it’s going down a bit!

Right now, we’re at 389,117.17

Last month it was 391,582.87.

2465.70 down in a month. I guess it’s progress. Possibly I should add that this month, instead of 71.04 for our snowball, it was 551.04. (Which, ahem, might have been a little over optimistic this month.)

We also had our 4 year old’s birthday party, complete with a dinosaur cake (mine wasn’t this pretty). I was going to post a photo, but the head fell off. There’s a reason I’m not a professional cake decorator. I still find it hard to budget for birthdays, and got into a whole argument with my husband, who went out shopping with the list, but spent almost all the money in the envelope. That was for groceries and the party (I combined two envelopes). But it was also for groceries for the rest of the month. He says he just got the stuff on the list, but I say you have to keep in mind the total amount and decide where to cut back as you shop. You can’t always have everything on the list. Especially if you ever shop at BJs. They kill me every time.  I think the bulk pricing can make things cheaper, but sometimes you just spend all your money there.

So, we’re pinching pennies big time here for the next 11 days or so.  Of course we have tons of stuff in our pantry, and the cars have gas, so it’s really a matter of making it through without spending extra. I’m not entirely sure we’ll make it. I’m always playing catchup from the last month, so I take away from things that are budgeted (because we need them, so my plan was good to budget for them). Not sure where to take away from this month, there’s nothing left to cut.

Still, I got my social security statement on Friday, and I earned more last year than I’d actually ever earned in my life (and 5 months of last year I was working part-time). And my current pay stubs tell me that I’ve already earned more this year than last. So where does all that money GO?

September 17, 2009

Birthday Budgets

Filed under: birthday,budgets,children,family — by elysianconfusion @ 2:55 pm

How do you budget for your children’s birthday parties? I have such trouble with this — what’s an appropriate amount? We have always hosted at home, so far. My oldest turned six in July, and my youngest turns four in October, so we’ve been lucky enough to always have parties outside. I also make my own cakes… so far a race track, two pirate ships, a campsite and tent, and Lightning McQueen. This October I’m heading for a dinosaur cake, because my little guy wants a costume party and he is dressing up as a dinosaur.

So that leaves party favors and gifts and food and drink, right? Oh! and the invitations. I’m slightly compulsive about those too. They always include a little poem I write about the child and the event… the younger one seems to always get a photo as well. Creating your own poem and photo card can be quite frustrating. I fought with Shutterfly for quite a while on Saturday trying to get the right pictures in the right place with the right text. Personalized invites also take longer to make and tend to cost more than buying the batch of cards at Target. My mom always wonders why I do this to myself — I don’t know, overcompensating for being a bad mommy in other areas perhaps? (Like wanting to go back to work?)

I just asked a friend and she said she spent $500 for her daughter’s sixth birthday — including renting a place, buying a cake, and ordering gift bag stuff. My jaw almost fell off — this seemed like so much to me! But I have no idea what I’ve really spent in the past on parties, and I did turn my swing set into a pirate ship, so I probably don’t have a leg to stand on.

So far we bought the little guy his main gift, a Lightning McQueen bicycle that he is going to LOVE. I ordered cards (38.68 for 14 cards! OUCH!) and I’m looking for reasonable favors at Oriental Trading. I hate party favors — I mean, I’m happy to give the kids that come something, but I obsess over what to put in them. I want it to be inexpensive but worth keeping a while. I cannot tell you how party favors we’ve gotten that broke right away.

What do you spend on your kids’ birthday parties?

Create a free website or blog at WordPress.com.