My mini emergency fund

well right now I have a little less than $1000 in my mini EF – I call it my mini EF because it originally was money I was saving towards my being out of work after the baby is born and its only in my name in my savings acct.

I am thinking of keeping it that way as even though DH is pretty frugal – he thinks of it as money we can use towards something more than I do who wants to save it for emergency only.

I had only $300 in June so I am pretty proud of the fact I have built it up by depositing all rebates – any baby-sitting money and ay extra I had in my pay ck and I hope to build it up more in the next few months – but probably the bulk of my paychecks the next few months will go to paying off DDS’s braces before I stop working (we owe about $900) but if I can get my EF to 1000$ I will be happy !!

Don’t wok on me!

My electric wok died the other night and I was so annoyed. It’s only 18 months old. I called the local repair shop, but they told me it would be $26 minimum to even look at it + parts, and they didn’t want to do it. They considered an electric wok a disposable item and I should just go buy a new one. Now, this thing cost $139 new so there was no way that was going to happen.

I then called the company that makes the wok. They were rather rude, basically told me ‘too bad’ and that there was nothing they could do for me since it was over a year old. They seemed shocked I would even call them. When I told them I was disappointed with their product, they gave me the head office number.

I called the head office. They also said (somewhat more nicely), ‘too bad, it’s too old,’ but when I told them that most of my appliances were at least a decade old (my microwave is 16, my sewing machine is 32!) and they were still going strong so I was very disappointed in the wok, she changed her attitude a bit.

At least she asked me what the symptoms were and told me that it sounded like it was the power cord. She suggested I take my wok back to the store where I bought it, and ask to plug it in with a new power cord to see if it would work.

If so, I could get just a new power cord from her (for *only* $25.99).

I didn’t do this, but it was a somewhat better idea anyway.

When I told dh this, he took the power cord apart himself. Using his electronics toys, he located the faulty piece (capacitor, resistor, whatever the thing is). I then went off to an electronics store and bought its replacement. DH and my son will solder it in tonight. Cross your fingers that it works! If so, our total outlay will be $3.50.

Not bad. I went from $139.00, to $26.00 plus parts, to $25.99, and finally to $3.50.

And it’s not just the money, either. I just really HATE that ‘disposable’ attitude, and am happy to have struck a blow against it.

Lise (a lady you don’t want to cross this week, having lost my dream house to vandals)

Almost 2 months into it…

And I thought some of you might be curious as to how my transition to no paycheck at all has gone.

I stopped working at all at the end of June (I’m a freelance writer and although at home with my 2yo since Feb 1, have been doing several stories a month while she naps/before she gets up.)

Not working is kind of a mental shock. I’ve worked half my life, and to not bring in any money at all is strange. My initial reaction to this was frantic cleaning/organizing, etc…figuring everything had to be done and perfect at home since my DH was the only one working.

I was really disoriented, unfocused, and frankly nowhere near as productive as I could have been. But a friend, another SAHM who’s been at it longer, reminded me that I work too: chasing around a toddler, managing the budget, doing all the housework/gardening/shopping/cooking is work, as we all know 🙂

And then there was the spending. If I look back to my old days, I’m a reformed person, but I’m nowhere near reformed enough to live on DH’s nice salary in the SF Bay Area. We have no debts except our 5 hundred dollar loan and the mortgage, but that’s huge, more than half his take home every month. I’ve had to really tighten things more.

Here’s what’s worked (and hasn’t):

1. Cooking from scratch: doing even more of that than I was before, but it’s ONLY cheaper if you shop around for ingredients. In this area, buying flour/sugar/etc. can vary widely in price from store to store. A price book and an ability to stock up helped me. Plus I realized I was willing to pay more for bread machine flour since we see a big taste difference — and I make all our bread — but I won’t pay more than 99c a bag for 5lbs of regular flour which is what I use for everything else.

2. Gardening — this can be a huge money sink, and confession time, I think mine has been. Though I’ve had great potatos, tomatos, herbs, zukes, peppers…it’s cost me money to buy topsoil to hill the potatos, mulch, and of course the plants themselves. Next year I’m going to see if I can do everything from seed.

3. Thrift stores/garage sales: every piece of clothing I’ve purchased in the last six months has come from one of these two sources. Plus the vast majority of her toys, including all outdoor toys. Plus shoes, plus decorative items, etc. However, I have been known to get carried away, and since cash is always tight, I set a $ limit each week and then if I go over it, I have less the following week. The only way in which this area is great to live in — from a frugal perspective — is the garage sales. There is so much money here you can’t believe what people get rid of, often brand new. It’s kind of sickening, really.

4. Library — I go on Amazon.com, see what I want to read, then reserve themat the library. This works particularly well for new books…when you find out one of your favorite authors has a new one coming out, you can just reserve it. You may wait a bit, and it costs 50c here to reserve, but it’s worth it. DH does this as well. We LOVE the library. I also take DD to free toddler story time, we check out books together, and she’s as into reading as mom an dad.

5. Free entertainment: Zoo membership pays big dividends for us…we can go to 30 great attractions in Northern California alone, for free, and more throughout the state. And we take advantage of free concerts and events. Even a historic walking tour is fun for our 2yo, since she can run around, ride her bike, etc. A trip to the beach, a picnic lunch, lots of playing in the sand goes a long way for both DD and I to recharge LOL

6. Attitude: you’re either deprived or you’re creative. I think I said this earlier this week but I daily have to talk to myself about this. If I’m creative, I’m empowered, in charge, on top of things, and the world is going my way. If I’m deprived, well, forget it!!

7. Think about every single purchase: this is hard for me. Tough to not buy for my DD (she doesn’t ask for the most part, it’s me who wants to LOL), tough to have to wait, tough to have to make do. But when I do this, I find I can make do.

8. Decorating: one of my biggest money sinkholes of all time. I’m a closet interior designer – not really, I just like it – and I’ve always had a hard time controlling how I spend on the house.

Garage/thrift stores help, but…sometimes you just get that itch to redo things. And right now, there’s no money. So my strategy: I rearrange/redecorate with what I have. It works well, I feel I have a fresh new look, and most importantly, I don’t feel deprived.

Sorry for the book! But I’ve vowed to be less of a lurker now that I’m back on the list.

Dave Ramsey recommends that you have an emergency fund

In Financial Peace, Dave Ramsey recommends that you have an emergency fund.

Details are hazy, but it seems to me that until you’ve built up an EF of 500-1000.00 (depending on your family size/financial situation) he recommends paying the minimum due on your bills – the logic being that if you’re focusing on paying off credit instead of building an EF, you’re gonna end up dipping into the credit to cover unanticipated emergencies….

Once you’ve gotten a “small” EF, work on paying off credit cards, and once that’s done, you should focus on building your EF to cover 3-6 months worth of expenses (please, ANYONE correct what I’ve gotten wrong).

We’re still building our EF, and it’s slooooow going. But, it’s really a cool feeling to actually start growing a savings account where once there was none. I do dip into ours to pay for dental visits, but deposit the checks from our insurance company right back into the fund as we are reimbursed ~ we have decent insurance, but our dentist demands payment up front.

I started the EF with a $25.00 check that I got from Qwest for signing up for their long distance service. I added to as I received checks from half.com for books sold. DH has done some bicycle repairs for friends that he’s gotten paid for and that money goes into the bank as well. He’s also sold some stuff on e-bay & contributed that as well. I keep a jar in the cabinet above my washer for ALL change that is left in the laundry, and I try to deposit that on a monthly basis as well.

Every little bit helps. You can do it!

Emergency funds

Do you all have an emergency fund? I am so new to this and have really got to make budgeting my job, or return to work………Snip

I like that phrase “budgeting is my job” – Can I borrow it? Yes we have an emergency fund, and I am soooo protective of it–heaven help me when we really need it–I’ll be in pain twice–the first crisis and then depleting my lovely emergency fund. So weird–and I was the one who used to think it was a successful month if I ended it with a few dollars left over in the checking account–and who needed a savings account, when there was “always” another paycheck coming? Scary.

The envelope system is the only thing that has ever worked for me to start saving anything. It’s visual and I “get it”. When I’m saving for something in particular, I create an envelope for it (Dave Ramsey calls it a “sinking fund“) and any money that I’ve saved, found, cashed in change etc goes in that envelope. It’s rewarding to see it fill up bit by bit and it is incentive to save a few dollars here or there from another category because I get to add those “saved” dollars to my savings envelope. Of course at a certain point, it should go to a bank but only into a special account.

Money just disappears in our checking account.

Oh and I saw a cute thing at the store–thought about copying it at home. It was a mason jar that had been outfitted with a harness type thingy that wrapped around the jar and had a cover over the lid with a tiny padlock locking the harness shut and the lid on. There was a hole/slit in the top for money to slot thru. The side of the jar was mark and labeled – a little bit up the jar, the label said “Movie and Dinner” Farther up the side of the jar the label said “A weekend on the town” and so on. I think at the very top was something like “Hawaii Vacation”

Lis in AL, who needs to go figure out something for dinner.

My day today was kind of frugal

Well, my day today was kind of frugal in some ways – I bought a lot but could have spent a lot more!

i had to take my Ds down to vineland NJ to meet his best friend and his father – my son ( 12 ) was then going on with them to their shore house and staying till Saturday when they come home

PROS- less arguing between him and his 9 yo sister with one of them gone (we are ready for school to start here LOLL!! and he gets to spend time at the shore with his friend and get some shore experiences (he loves the shore ) and i don’t have to pay for the whole family to go

CONS- i had to give him $30 (well didn’t have to but i wanted him to have some money so they were not paying for everything – especially playing games or rides on the boardwalk – then again he actually is owed 2 weeks in allowance ($5 a week ) so $10 of that is from his allowance $20 from us ) – but again its cheaper than even taking teh whole family for teh beach for a day.

We got a little lost and i found an area that had a salvation army- a good will – a super Mart a bradlees and a Walmart (which i have non near me !!) so after i dropped DS off i figured we could do a little shopping for a few needed things – I was bummed because i didn’t have any of the goodwill $10 off $20 clothing coupons i had cut out of the newspaper : (

SO we stopped for lunch at BK – the three kids split two kids meals — I got a DBL cheeseburger (I am such a piggy now that I am eating for 2 LOL!!) i got a milk for ds and youngest DD to split and drank the one kids meal soda .

CONS- cost about $6 – would have been cheaper to back something if i had planned ahead

PROs- it sure satisfied a BK craving I had been having for the past few days (LOLL!) and while looking at a free publication they had in the lobby I found a coupon for goodwill like I had at home ! YIPPEE !!!

SO off to good will we went – it was a huge good will was nicely laid out- I ended up spending $22 total but here;s what I got:

5– ” cool ” shirts for DD 9 ( 2 from gap one from limited- one two name )

For Ds 12 : 2 t-shirts ( dark colors- seems the freebies from the Internet seem to be white a lot of the time and get stained so easily) in fact while he is gone I am going thru his drawers trying to get the stains out of his tees and trashing those beyond hope !) a nice gray polo style shirt that says ESPN ( he wil love this!!)

a nice- flannel one piece PJ set ( womans large ) with pooh and piglet pattern all over it – will use the material to make a doll blanket for my 3 yo pooh lover for Christmas and maybe a small doll pillow etc. or nightgown for the doll

a pooh game for 3 yo DD

A nice sky blue satin material bedskirt pillow sham and full size sheet (which I may see if I can make into a cover for her twin comforter )- all like new in beautiful condition !!

PROS- great stuff for low prices
CONs – haven’t thought of any yet LOL!!

Then i was onto Walmart where we found a dress for DD for her first day back at school – it was 10$ but will get plenty of use as a church dress too – I got a few new bras (outgrowing them) undies ( no comment LOL!!) a belt for my youngest Ds for school and a slew of bargain school supplies – then we went home very very tired !!

CONS”s – spent $71 at Walmart and put it on my charge (UGH) PROS- if i bought bras at a place like MACY’s etc i would have paid $71 for only the bras most likely – already wrote out the $71 ck to cover what i charged – and everything i bought was something needed to buy and at least at Walmart i got a good deal

Car payments

I, too know the joy of paying off my car this month…also the memory of what happened the last time I paid off a car and,foolishly dropped the collision coverage only to be driven off the road by a 4×4 coming over a hill in my lane and totalling my Geo….the cause of the car payments I just finished !!

So WILL NOT drop my collision and will continue to pay the pmyt. into my credit union account since I’m already used to not having that $245 a month anyhow.

The account is out of town and a pain to get money out of so will be my emergency fund. With the help of this list and all the frugal sites out there my DH and I are actually getting a real handle on our finances after 34 years of ups and downs.

I have to say this is the parents fault

I have to say this is the parents fault -WHY did they let her buy a new mustang- there is a HUGE difference between a job for a little extra spending money some fashionable clothes and allowing a child to have an adult lifestyle ( new car etc) because they have a job –

I worked PT from 9th grade thru nursing school my grades never showed the difference (A’s) because I put school not work first — again IMO that is the parents fault if they let their kids grades fail and continue to let them work — when I was growing up working was considered a privileged and grades – attitude had to be kept up to keep the job.

I can tell you that when i was in nursing school i could point out which kids never ever had a job of any-kind- very little responsibility for anything – from leaving their stuff all over the schools kitchen to not taking clinical as id it was a ” job” in itself ( which it was )

Plus many kids have no choice if they want some extras- IMO it is much worse for a Mom to leave teh family so teh kids can have these extras than for the kids to work a few hours a week

I think the # 1 thing is doing al things in moderation- i bet 99% of kids who work ~ 10 hours a week will not have problems with grades etc. as compared to those trying to pay off cars etc. ( which IMO a new car for a teen is absolutely ridiculously a WANT not a need – a safe reliable car is a need and even that is questionable- i used my moms car until i got a used Toyota at 19 yo to drive to and from nursing school in )

Teens working

Felt compelled to reply when I heard about a teen wanting to work on a farm…farm work is one of the most dangerous jobs there are. Many farmers are killed or maimed each year and often these are young people who may understand how to drive a piece of machinery but don’t have the maturity/judgment to be around such dangerous equipment.

Even adult don’t always think/remember what they are doing. Remember taking care of a woman who had been partially scalped/one ear lost when she was working around a corn picker without her long hair under a cap and it got sucked into the machinery. The law says kids can’t work around dangerous machinery but it happens all too frequently…like slicers in deli’s and fast food shops…a neighbor kid cut off 4 fingers and lost his dream of joining the service using this kind of machinery; all to keep up his car.

Another girl was nearly killed falling asleep on her way home from her Walmart job all to keep up the payments on her new Mustang. I personally don’t think teens should work –their education should be primary interest with time for family, friends, church and community service. Studies have shown that the majority of teens who work have lower grades.

Plenty of years when you’ll have to work. DEE

When our son was born

When our son, Chucky was born, DH didn’t have a whole lot to do with him…DH was an only child and had not really been around kids….he was scared of Chucky. He made some comments to me one time about having to “babysit” Chucky when I went to a bridal shower…or something like that. I told him that you can’t “babysit” your own child…etc. I think I made him feel really bad, because after that, he made more of an effort to get to know his child. (Plus seeing how my dad and my brothers interacted with their kids helped)

He grew up without really knowing his father, so I don’t think he really understood the father-child bond. I have to say…he is one terrific father now and has been since Chucky was about a year old. In fact, he deals better with the kids in alot of aspects then I do, even though I’m around them more. He is better with them when they are sick, deals with emergency situations better and is more of a pushover too..LOL He is one heck of a guy! He is still nervous around babies, especially ones that aren’t ours…but he’ll have to get over that again..come November..

Joni

I know DH’s who would rather their kids be in daycare than they have to do things like this !!!