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Adding it all up

August 11th, 2019 at 12:03 pm

The last few blog posts have been about how expensive life is or how expensive kids are. Comment was made that I could post my budget and get some suggestions for where I could trim the fat. I should but I'm afraid.

I don't think of myself as a frugal budget-er. Between my husband and I will bring home a good bit of money. And, we save for retirement and for a rainy day. And, yes, there is extravagance in our every day living budget. To give you high level idea of what scares me...

Here are four of the largest categories….
Food 1291 (groceries, eating out)
Housing 4221 (PITI, utilties, HOA, etc.)
Transportation 1092 (pymt, ins., maintenance)
Misc 1342 (cats, gifts, Netflix, etc.)
TOTAL 7,946

That's an ugly total. It represents about 85% of the monthly budget. But it is for a family of four with two kids in sports, tutoring, and a whole lot of other things.

The good news is that income covers the above, the remainder of the budget, a small amount of rainy day saving and about $18,000 for retirement. My financial advisor says I have sufficient funds to retire in 2021 so we are good there.

Yes, cable could go. Yes, netflix & amazon prime could go. Yes, we could not eat out....but I want all those things. I just wish things didn’t cost so much. We are fortunate that we don’t carry any credit card debt. We have two debts - the home mortgage and a car note (.9% financing so funds to purchase the car out right are in a 2% MMDA).

I discuss finances with the hubby and he’s good with my suggestions. He says I’ve done a good job based on savings. I wish we could save more but that will take courage and a backbone. I'm not there yet. My goal is each day to make better decisions.

Please be kind when commenting...

Life is Expensive!

August 2nd, 2019 at 10:19 am

For the last two years, I've been working on tracking where the family money goes. I've tried YNAB and Dave Ramsey's version. I've made various excel spreadsheets. I tried paper and pencil. But, nothing seems to stick. Part of the issue is that we spend cash and haven't been good at writing down where the dollars went. And, I had broad categories such as Capital One and Target credit cards. Yes, I know....

With retirement on the horizon, 599 days to the earliest point for full benefits retirement (aka freedom), I am scared that we won't have enough money and I will have to continue to work at my current job. As I stress, I use online calculator to predict how long our retirement savings will last. But until I know where the money goes (actually how much flows out), I am only guestimating.

So, several months ago I set up a jar for all receipts and added a small notepad and pencil to record cash purchases. I made another excel spreadsheet with specific budget categories. I have been tracking almost every cent. I record expenditures and go through the Capital One credit card bill, identify those charges without a receipt and record those as well.

I have been doing this pretty faithfully for the last 6 months and I'm shocked. I didn't realize that we actually spend as much as we do. Y'all would be shocked if I gave a lot of the details. Netting out vacation travels, we spend about $10,000 per month on life. Yikes! Fortunately, net earnings cover this.

I am fortunate to have a pension and I've been saving for retirement since I started working in 1987. I also have a good work record so social security will supplement our retirement income. However, if we keep spending at our current rate, I will need to draw about $4,500 from savings. And, that seems just crazy. I know eventually expenses will go down (downsize the home, kids will be off on their own) but we are talking 10 years out.

I need to start campaigning that the rest of the family needs to be as frugal or cost conscience as me. I plan to have a family meeting this weekend. Wish me luck!

Kids are expensive

June 9th, 2019 at 04:29 am

Or I guess, it depends upon whether you are indulgent. And, I am. But, in my humble opinion, not as much as others.

Yes, I spoil my kids in many ways. They play (expensive) sports and the teenaged girl gets Lululemon yoga pants and jeans from Hollister. Purchases are made in moderation and she doesn’t have an unique outfit for every day of the month. So, there are some extravagant purchases but her closet isn’t overflowing.

Admittedly, some of those purchases are for my benefit. I was a chubby teenager and my clothes came from Lane Bryant or JcPenney. I love that she isn’t in the same situation and she has a great figure and can wear yoga pants without unsightly bulges. So, maybe I am playing “dress up Barbie doll.” Purchases are made in moderation and the credit card gets paid off monthly. And, fortunately, my son hasn’t hit the “labels are important” stage of teenage-hood yet. He wears sport shorts from Target. 😊

My husband tells me that I put myself last on the list when it comes to the family’s wants and needs. He has his hobby – plays ice hockey in two recreational leagues. My hobbies are reading (borrow books from the library), knitting baby blankets (yarn bought with coupons from Michael’s), and watching reality tv, Netflix and Amazon. So, I spend little on me when compared to the rest of the family. And, most days, I’m ok with that. Yet, I am human and sometimes want some extravagance in my life.

My husband and I reached the 15 year mark in our marriage. We went out to dinner but didn’t do much else to celebrate. We have a family vacation planned for the summer and that was enough money flowing out at the time of our anniversary. But it’s several months later and I want something more. I have ordered an anniversary band with tiny emeralds and diamonds. Total cost will be less than $800, the equivalent of 6 or 7 Lululemon pants.

Do I feel guilty? A little. Not much. I’m worth it…

I hope you all spoil yourselves every now and then.


April 14th, 2019 at 04:49 am

Sorry for the absence from the blog...life happens and nothing seemed pertinent to blog about.

I recently discovered the show Billions on Showtime. Through my cable subscription, I can marathon watch old episodes. So far, I've completed season 1 and am half way through with season 2.

While watching, I am amazed at the display of wealth in homes, cars, clothing, food, etc. Yes, I understand that this is a tv show but it must represent how the "other half live." How do people live like that?! They must be born into living those high standards.

I am, by no means, poor. I make a good salary (probably better than most of my friends) and my husband works a part time job too. We generally live below our means as I'm able to save over $1200 per month to retirement, aggressively repay the mortgage, give to charity and still save a little to our growing liquidity (emergency fund, fun fund, overspending fund, etc.) All this is to allow me to retire young enough that I can enjoy life, be available for kids’ activities, etc.

My money guy tells me that I have more than enough money saved. Through a Monte Carlo analysis, the downside analysis shows that I will have over $1 million at age 92. That's a good predictor but how true is it? The analysis is based on current spending plus escalating increase in expenses (when I retire, I carry health insurance at a reasonable rate until death). But I still wonder if I will have enough.

I've written before that I would love to have a LV Carry All bag but I can't get myself to buy it. I would love to have a Tesla but I can't get myself to buy it. I would love to have a diamond and sapphire ring but I can't get myself to buy it. What happens if I become a spendthrift? What happens if I start being comfortable with large dollar purchases? Is it true that it is highly unlikely that my frugal personality won't change?

Is anyone familiar with the Monte Carlo analysis? Should I have comfort in it? Do you think a person's personality/standard of living is generally set and doesn't really change?

Thoughts please!


February 3rd, 2019 at 10:57 am

Our Sunday morning routine is to do our weekly shopping. Husband and I look at the Publix and Winn Dixie sales fliers, look through the refrigerator and pantry and make a shopping list. It never seems like a long list...and it never seems like an expensive list. We hit four stores (in order - Target, Aldi's, Publix and Winn Dixie) and get 99% of our shopping done. Sometimes, only some times, do we swing by Trader Joes on the way home. We are a fan of some TJ staples...all in total, we spend between $100 and $150 per week. This is supplemented with a monthly BJs warehouse run. Our grand total for groceries is usually 1,000 or so.

Thank you all for the comments to my last post. I approached the topic of "working on the relationship" and husband took it well. I mentioned, while sweeping the kitchen, that I had a dream that we were divorcing. He replied that didn't sound like a good dream. I responded with, you have to admit we need to work on our relationship. Not much was said then and I figured my comments had fallen on deaf ears, like usual. But today, during our Sunday routine - when we were in the car without kids - husband asked, what can we do to work on our relationship. I wasn't prepared and could only rattle off a few things. But the fact that he asked, make we feel better. At least I feel that he cares enough to follow up on the question. We talked while we drove to the stores and he acknowledged that I do more in the relationship.

I plan to call and see about a counselor so I can better form my thoughts around why I am miserable or what is missing in the relationship. People often suggest seeking help at church but that has never felt appropriate for me. Counseling is tough for me as it is contrary to my upbringing. But, you all are right, I need someone to listen.

Thank you all for the support....


February 1st, 2019 at 06:09 am

Money comes and goes. Lately it seems that more goes than comes. I have tried various ways to budget and track spending. I just can't seem to make anything really work for me. (Yes, I have tried YNAB and EveryDollar.)

Right now, I have an excel spreadsheet that I track income and deduct monthly bills. If we don't overspend, we have a small surplus. But something always seems to come up. I budget on 2 paychecks per month and don't include unplanned extra income. Unplanned extra income means expense check surplus from my work travel and any amount over $500/bi-weekly pay check for my husband. He works an hourly paid job at a big box store so work hours vary each week and pay period (some weeks he gets 20 hours and some weeks he gets over 30 hours).

The way the budget is set up, we are living on last month's income and I automatically put money into savings (a little, but still). I rarely have to transfer money from savings into checking to pay bills. But I am still stressed on squeezing out more savings....or providing extras for my family.

We don't carry a credit card balance and we use the credit card for everything. It helps me track spending but when you get a $5,000 credit card bill, it takes my breath away. I have talked to my husband about paying cash but we both are uncomfortable carrying large cash amounts around. I get uneasy if I have more than $50 in my wallet.

I'm stressing over money because I wonder how we could afford to live if we were to separate. At 15 years, our marriage is stressed and we are functioning more as roommates. I keep dreaming about divorcing. Clearly, based on income, I would have to pay some sort of support should we divorce. Life would definitely have to downsize. I need to put my "big girl pants on" and have a serious conversation with my husband. But, I am afraid of the outcome.

I don't know what to do. I don't know if I feel this way because of horrible menopause or if I have really fallen out of love for my husband. I need to pray on this....

I am sad. I am stressed. I continue to function...

Sorry y'all...this money blog has turned out to be more therapy.....next one will be better....

Happy Friday!

January 18th, 2019 at 10:17 am

Happy Friday Bloggers! Hope weather is being kind to you. And, if not, I hope you are safe and snugged up some place warm.

Today is a beautiful day in Florida and I have taken the opportunity to assess the flower beds. Many plants need to be trimmed back and some did not make it through the last cold snap. Yes, we get frost (& sometimes snow) where I live.

But the warmer weather makes me think of spring cleaning and getting the house in order. I need to go through what I have. My parents died in the recent years, first my dad and then my mom, and I kept some of their things. At the time I could not part with some of their possessions. But, to be honest with you and myself, the things I kept are just things. They sit in a pile and aren't being used. Someone who could use them may appreciate the rocking chair, the wall hangings, etc. I am working on letting go. I have watched Marie Kondo on Netflix. If I was honest with myself, my parent items rarely spark or bring me joy. So, this is my spring project!

Financially, we continue to be in good shape. Pay checks come in, bills get paid. We live on last month's income. The credit card bill is higher than usual having put some of the new car down payment and the extended warranty on it. I have a play to pay the card off in full by the due date.

The extraordinary car related expenses were charged to the credit card for the points. Credit card points pay for our vacation air fare. Hotel points from work travel pays for the lodging. So, when we travel, we only really need to pay for food, activities and souvenirs. I really am fortunate.

If I can figure it out, I plan to add to the side bar, the titles of books I am reading (& the amount I save by borrowing from the library). Thanks CB for the inspiration!

Sorry this isn't too financially related. Enjoy the rest of your day!

January 9th

January 9th, 2019 at 02:48 pm

And all is alright in my tiny corner of the world.

There is general peace and calm in the house. I was expected meltdowns as the kids returned to school after a long break. For them, and for me, early morning wake ups have been tough, but we are surviving.

My son has "matured" and is now showering every morning. This is a vast change/improvement from a month ago when I would be "when did you last shower/go shower" campaign each night. With boy showering in the morning, there are now three of us via for water pressure and hot water. Most days, I am in the shower by 5:10am and my daughter follows at 5:25am. If I am still showering, water pressure drops.

I write all this because now that four people are showering daily, I am scared of the water bill. But I guess I should just chalk it up to 2019 price increases. Everywhere I have been so far, there are nice little signs saying service prices have increased effective January 1st.

Prices go up, the expense column in the budget gets adjusted and less money gets saved. I should be happy that there is still some positive in the bottom line. I did qualify for a merit increase at work, albeit is somewhat small at 2.3%. And yes, compared to others, 2.3% salary increase is good. And yes, I'd rather have 2.3% increase on my salary than others. But, somehow, the increase never seems to get too much greater than the increase in expenses.

The other day riding home from work, I caught an interview on talk radio. It was with Dean Graziosi, author of Millionaire Success Habits. The tips discussed sound like the usual - don't have a greater life style than your income, don't go in debt, etc. But perhaps it is presented in a different way. I may borrow a copy from the library. (Would that tip be in the book? Borrow, instead of buy?) Has anyone else heard of this book? Any review to share?

Well, the house is quiet as the kids are at CCD tonight. I'm going to end now so I can enjoy a little light reading.


Dec 31 2018 wrapped up

January 1st, 2019 at 10:31 am

Does anyone else do a personal balance sheet? Last year (yes, 2018), I started to do one quarterly. It looks great when you don't add on debts and the market is up.

But the market is down compared to the prior quarter end and we made an expensive purchase late yesterday. This past week, we noticed that our 2008 Honda Odyssey (with over 200K miles) developed a strange sound and started having a burning smell. We took it to the mechanic and the diagnosis was not good. Front right axle and and transmission were "going." So, after discussion of "do we put more $ into the car, or do we buy another car", we called my husband's friend, the GM at a local Honda dealership, and went and bought a car. Yes, we bought a new Honda Odyssey. That's right, not a "new to us" car but a new new car. Based on incentives offered, and a friends/family discount, the new Odyssey was only $1200 more than the best priced, low mileage used Odyssey on the lot. Yes, we could have gone with an older model with more miles but we keep cars to they die....

Next came the debate of finance or pay cash. I opted for a short term low interest rate loan because my credit union is paying better on savings than the cost of borrowing. So, now we have a car payment. It fits our cash flow but I'll be anxious to through more at the payment in order to pay off the loan sooner than later. I will definitely want the debt gone before I retire in 2021.

So, market has been volatile and we now have a consumer debt in addition to our mortgage. December 31 balance sheet is still good but not as good as past quarters. My net worth is still better than I thought it would ever be. I just need to relax, be diligent in paying down debt, mindful of future expenses and enjoy the new car smell while the mini-van has it.

One day, I'll work on an income statement....

2018 Financial Wins and Fails

December 28th, 2018 at 06:57 am


Cash flowed Christmas!

Have kept track of spending - excel spreadsheet of major bills and six months of grocery store spending. Who knew a family of four could spend $1000 per month on groceries alone.

Took lunch to work over 80% of the time, when working in the office.

Tracked travel expenses and transferred extra expense money to savings.

Saved ~$500 by borrowing digital books from the library. (Love my kindle!)

Reduced family eating out to once per week.

Started this blog!


On average, spent over $1,000 in groceries each month.

Invested in the stock market and the market has been falling ever since. (Yes, you can blame me!)

Haven't paid anything extra on the mortgage.

Survived the holiday - Next!

December 28th, 2018 at 06:01 am

New user error! I had a great entry written and now it is lost. Frown

The blog was about the cost of Christmas. Adding up receipts and guesstimating for expenditures not recorded, we spent about $900 on Christmas. This does not include the big ticket family gift of a cruise in July 2019. I think $900 sounds modest for a family of four. We spent about $600 on our kids gifts, small gifts from kids to my husband and I and food and decorations. We had a simple meal, using freezer and pantry item and only purchased a roast from the grocery store.

Now I am faced with the kids home from school until January 7th. I am sure we will see a movie or two and attend a hockey game or two. I will try to keep costs down.

While adding up the cost of Christmas, I realize that this amount was "cash flowed" from extra December income sources (extra in the paycheck from no social security deduction and an extra paycheck). I have been watching budgeting videos on Youtube. I am curious about sinking funds. I don't do sinking funds per say but move any extra $ in the checking account to savings.

I have tried YNAB and EveryDollar (ED) previously but could never quite figure out how to start. We live on last month's income (meaning that I have already set up to pay January bills and we still have money left over) but I can't figure out how to start YNAB and ED. Do I start with $0 and allocate the next paycheck received?

Any advice on YNAB or ED and sinking funds would be appreciated....

Merry Christmas & Happy Holidays

December 24th, 2018 at 11:02 am

FYI, this is not a $$$ related post.

This morning, my kids and I were debating whether it was appropriate to say Merry Christmas or Happy Holidays. My son told me that one of his public school teachers counseled a classmate for saying Merry Christmas. I thought the "counseling" was probably exaggerated but it prompted our talk.

I have always wished friends and others Merry Christmas. I say it and accept the wishes out of wanting to express general love and respect and share what gives me hope and purpose. I am not offended when friends wish me a Happy Hanukkah. I accept the Happy Hanukkah with the same.

So, new blog friends, please accept my Merry Christmas with the spirit and intent meant. I wish you all well.

Family COO - Let me introduce myself

December 22nd, 2018 at 12:42 pm

Hi all,
I've been lurking for sometime now, commenting when I felt I could add to the discussion. Otherwise, I was a silent member of the audience.

I'm hoping to use this blog to document my trials and tribulations. I am the primary breadwinner in the family, and I have a good job. My job does require me to travel, so the downside is I miss out on evenings home with the kids. But, my husband would say, on the upside, you miss out on evenings home with the kids. It's all perspective, I guess.

I make decent money, have great benefits and I still feel as if I'm struggling to make ends meet. I have a great retirement account and plenty of liquid funds. I just have the mindset that maybe it won't be enough. My financial adviser tells me that I will have more than enough money for retirement and that I'll likely leave money behind for my children. Yet somehow, I can't enjoy spending money.

I would love, love, love to have a LV Carry All bag but the thought of carrying a $1200 purse/tote chokes me. I would love to enjoy dinner out with my family (4 of us) and the thought of spending $80 - $100 on dinner (with tip), makes me choke.

I know that I am blessed. I just wish I could relax and enjoy what I have.

Does anyone else feel the same way?