Wednesday, January 28, 2009

A Setback

Monday night I went to bed feeling pretty good. Mike had just filed our taxes, and I was looking forward to getting our fairly sizable return, most of which was earmarked to go towards debt. Then Tuesday came, and brought with it some financial news that will hugely alter our course, at least for the next 6 months. Debt repayment will be taking a back seat to staying afloat. We're not unique in this, and I understand that. And we're surely better off than we could be. The amount of cutbacks and layoffs and foreclosures out there is truly staggering. Still, it was difficult to process. In just one evening I went from sad, to mad, to scared... and back to sad again.

But onward we go. Yesterday was also National Chocolate Cake Day, and I was wanting to make a chocolate cake after dinner. But suddenly celebrating didn't seem like such a great idea. At 7:00 I decided that cake was exactly what we needed, so Spencer and I went to the store for a cake mix and frosting, and all three boys helped me make it while we waited for dinner to cook. We had a nice dinner, watched American Idol together, and at 9:00 we had our cake. And ate it too.


Saturday, January 10, 2009

The best laid plans...

So I'd decided to get a job. I was sure, I was resolved, I was peaceful. All the things you want to be when making a big change like that. But ... always the but ... it didn't sit well in my heart. The very night I'd made the decision, I couldn't sleep. The following night I started having nightmares. I felt uneasy and unsettled from the time I got up till the time I went to bed. Yes, the money would have been helpful. Yes, I could have made it work if I had to. But God was telling me loud and clear that the timing wasn't right, so I listened.

Then what to do? We can't keep going the way we are headed, especially with the state of the current ecomony. We're fortunate in that we're not falling further behind - I know a lot of people are right now - by we're not exactly making progress either. Our progress is slow, essentially one step forward, two steps back. We're spinning our wheels. How do we change that without my taking a job, which would mean time away from my husband and babies?

We take a deep breath in, and tighten our belts another 2, 7, 10 notches. Every dollar we can save is another dollar knocked off our debt.

Mike just started taking the train to work, which not only benefits the environment but also saves us over $100 a month (closer to $200 when the gas prices rise again!) We just started grocery shopping once a month, instead of weekly, and on our first go we saved $100 by shopping the sales at several different stores and stocking up. We're going to start coupon clipping again, and seeing if we can do even better in February. I'm starting to check my survey mail daily again, after taking a few months off, and have around $100 coming to me next month. I also did a major purge of my movie collection, and currently have over 100 movies listed on Ebay. It's something I'd been saying I'd do for awhile now, and was finally ready. Next, I'll do my books!

I feel good and positive moving into the new year, and I feel relieved that - at least for now - our plans do not include my getting a job.

Monday, January 5, 2009

The Grocery Outlet

A benefit of insomnia!! The other night I couldn't sleep and was watching a news program in the wee hours. The piece was about salvage grocery stores, where you can buy groceries at a significant discount because of damaged packaging, overstocks, etc. While I didn't find one of those in the near vicinity, I did find The Grocery Outlet nearby. We checked it out this weekend, and will definitely be going back! They carry all the same brands as our regular grocery store, but at a much better price. Not everything was a bargain - it took careful shopping, and knowing what the normal prices should be - but we found some absolute steals. We just bought a handful of things (we'd already done a full shopping trip the day before) and spent $21.00. We totalled it up when we got home, and the same items would have been $35+ at our regular store. Awesome. I can't wait to see what a full trip looks like!

Saturday, January 3, 2009

New Year, New Plans

We just ushered in the new year, and with it came a renewed determination to get ourselves back on track. I did December's numbers yesterday (which included doing the final numbers for the entire year), and while things certainly could have been much worse, we did not end the year on a high note. But rather than wasting even a second dwelling on that, we are taking action. Today.

I really want to move into a bigger house, and in order for that to become a reality a few things need to happen. The market needs to improve, we need to pay off our credit cards and cars, and we need to pay down our second mortgage. Now I unfortunately have no control over the market, but I can make changes to more quickly pay down the debt. So with the goal of a new house in mind, I am going to get a part time job. I don't NEED to get a job, and for that I am eternally thankful. We are able to pay our bills, keep a roof over our heads, and food on our table without it. But do we want to spend 5, 10, 15 or more years paying on debt that we could pay off in two if we get aggressive about it? No.

Today we put it all down on paper - our budget, our short-term goals, our long-term goals. For 2009, a few simple (but important) things are changing. We're setting up an automatic contribution for church so that isn't something that goes by the wayside when things are tight. We're reinstating our savings for gifts and car expenses. We're bumping up our credit card payments again. Step one though is finding me that job...