Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Financial Quest

I've recently become very interested in finances and how to make them WORK better for my family.  Shelby and I are very blessed to have 2 great jobs, but we still seem to fall short in some financial situations.  I'd say that our number 1 stressor in our marriage is MONEY.  Of course we were young and stupid once and we have developed some debt, like millions of other American's .. but I'm so tired of struggling! I've been doing some research and I've found some great tips so far.  I'm just getting started in my research, so I know I have a lot more to do .. but It makes me feel like there is hope out there for those of us struggling with money!

One of the major things I'm interested in is how to SAVE money throughout the month.  I have successfully created a budget for our monthly expenses, but we have little room to breathe and most of our money is going out to things we HAVE to pay for - meaning we have little money to spend on enjoyment and entertainment.  I know there are tons of ways (small ways) to cut costs.  The ones I'm most interested in at the moment are:
  1. How to save money on electricity and water
  2. How to conserve gasoline
  3. How to save money on groceries (COUPONS!!)
These are things that EVERYONE spends money on - whether you really want to or not.  We all need electricity and water, we all have cars that need gasoline, and we all have to eat! Why not save money in these areas?!

I would love for Shelby and myself to be completely out of debt (besides our car) in 2 years.  By that time in our lives we will be moving to another area and basically "starting over" as far as jobs go, etc.  Shelby will still be in the Navy, but I will have to find another job for myself.  We will have to find another sitter for Tristan and HOPEFULLY we will be able to think about having another child! :-)  We just need to be financially stable - as much as we can be - so that we don't have that added stress.  Things are so much easier when you don't have to worry about money - am I right?

One of the things I found online was the 50 - 30 - 20 Budget.  You take your monthly income (I just used what we actually BRING HOME) and then you calculate according to the following:
  1. 50% of your monthly income goes towards NEEDS
  2. 30% of your monthly income goes towards WANTS
  3. 20% of your monthly income goes towards SAVINGS
I WOULD LOVE to do this! Right now we aren't able to put 20% of our monthly income towards savings, but if we could we would be saving upwards of $10,000 per year! Hopefully, if I can swing it, we can start doing that after the beginning of the year.

I won't bore you with all my rambling about MONEY - but I'm just really excited about it! LoL!  I'd love to hear some of your ideas about saving money, etc.  I will post more about this topic every once in a while and share my findings! :-)



  1. I'm with you on this one. There is nothing I love more than saving money. Have you ever heard of the "envelope" system? I've never done it, but you basically allow $x for eating out, $x for groceries, $x for gas, etc every month. And once that money's gone, you don't get any more for that thing (unless you choose to transfer some from another envelope). I've heard it's great. Here's a link to it: http://www.daveramsey.com/etc/cms/index.cfm?intContentID=3461

    Another thing we do, is have our paychecks split up between our checking and savings accounts through our payroll departments - that way we never have the chance to spend a certain portion of our money. That REALLY helps us. Because it's like the money is not even there and honestly, after a month or two, you don't even miss it.

    We are also very frugal in our "fun" stuff - we try to ONLY eat out once per week for dinner and once per week for lunch. And usually, we don't even "spend" our dinner one, because we enjoy cooking/eating at home. Again, it's an adjustment at first, but once you do it for a few weeks, you don't even remember the "other way of life!!"

  2. YESSSS! We have the envelope system in place and ready to start November 1!! :-) I think that is an incredibly smart idea - and I love Dave Ramsey!

    Part of my check goes towards savings, and I just recently set up an automatic transfer of $ from our checking account into 2 seperate savings accounts (one we can use and one we can't). Like you said, we don't even miss the money and it makes me feel SO GOOD to know I've saved it!

    Our biggest money pit is going out to eat. We both eat out during the day for lunch - only bring our lunch maybe twice a week, and then we eat out maybe twice a week, if not more, for dinner. This is one of the areas we have an envelope for - so this will be cut down drastically.

    I read online about having a "Buy Nothing Month" where you don't purchase ANYTHING for a whole month except for necessities - it's supposed to be amazing how much money you save when you don't spend it on random stuff that you have nothing to show for! I'm hoping to can talk Shelby into doing this one.. I wanna give it a try! I'm gonna read into it a little more and then post about it later. :-)

  3. It is funny that you bring this up because it has been something that I have been thinking a lot about recently. One thing that "forces" me to save is an automatic tranfer to an ING account. Sometimes I will go a month or so and not look at it and it always surprises me how much I am able to save and it is there when you need it for a big purchase or a rainy day.

    We cut down out eatting out. 1 to lose weight. 2 to save money. And so far we have been sucessful at both ends and it is a win win. I am seriously thinking about doing the envelope system for the times we do eat out, shopping, etc. I figured it would help me manage a little better.

    And I have always heard about saving 20% of your income monthly. If you put money towards a IRA or other retirement, it counts towards your 20% goal.

    Good luck with your adventure. Keep us updated if you find anything that is really working!

  4. I love Dave Ramsey too! And I love the "buy nothing month." I actually went about 4 months without buying a single item of clothing/shoes/any wardrobe type stuff for myself. I did it over the summer and I never even noticed that "habit" missing. Now I only buy clothes when I need a specific item or see something I can't live without. I'd like to convince Shawn to do the "buy nothing month," but he would probably NOT be interested! :) I'll have to work on it!

  5. I'm so excited that you girls are interested in this! I will be sure to keep ya'll updated - as accountability partners :-) I am so excited about this plan .. I can't wait until I can SEE it paying off!!

    I signed up for a FREE TRIAL at mytotalmoneymakeover.com I'm trying to go through it as fast as I can and retain as much information as I can - just incase i don't want to continue after the free trial.

    I will blog tomorrow about what I've found so far!! :-)

  6. Miranda, I am totally with you on this. Our biggest stressor is also money. We dont' fight about anything except for this, honestly. But when we do argue about money, it's a doosey! :) He likes to spend and I don't. I have been working on the "buy nothing" system for awhile now and honestly, I don't miss it! I will occasionally spend money on makeup or a good bargain but that's it. Rachel, Kelsey is NOT interested in this technique either, but he might be slowly changing his ways. I give him X amt. that he can use for things he wants. If I can't stop it, I might as well limit it!

    My thing is, there are always birthdays, anniversaries, holidays, etc. and if I want something bad enough, I can either ask for it or I can save my money for it! Kelsey is the opposite. He will go buy a $30 DVD and think nothing of it. He sometimes will hide purchases from me because he knows I blow up at him, so I'm trying to show him that if you go without those things short term, you can do awesome things (or buy awesome thigns) long term!

    We are also in some CC debt and I'm working hard to pay that off. In our budget, I have X amt going into savings (I think it's like, 5% maybe, of our joint income). The savings goes to different things in our onlinesavings acct. I have $10 that goes to "vacation" $100 that goes to "emergency", X that goes into "christmas savings", then our big savings that we don't touch. ING direct has a great rates and you can set up as many accounts as you want on the same master account. It makes me feel good to know that I can save for a fun trip or whatever.

    I also have X amt that goes to credit cards. It isn't even in my budget so I just pretend like we dont' have it. I think that applies for a lot of things financially...out of sight, out of mind! Our biggest accomplishment (besides saving for the house) is being able to not use credit cards at all.

    Actually that's not true. Here is another little trick that I've been using that has allowed us to go out to eat and have "date night" without spending anything. I have a discover card and we've been using it for all our regular purchases (groceries, gas, pet stuff, etc.) Every month, you get 1% cash back on purchases. I pay it in full every month bc it's money we would be spending anyway. So then, I use the cashback bonus to purchase gift cards to restaurants. You can buy $45 cards for $40 cash back reward money!!

    I am a big coupon fan, also like to shop the BOGO sales @ Publix. We've been planning meals ahead of time, that way we're not tempted to go out to eat. I have $100 budgeted for dinners out to eat. That is 4 "nice" meals @ $25 a pop. We never go out to the movies, but instead we will record things on DVR. Sometimes we'll go to the mall and just window shop. Luckily, we have the beach closeby and can drive there for the day. Pack a lunch and you spend nothing (other than gas money, which is in my budget).

    Sometimes I feel like we live in a society that just makes you want to buy. Encourages it. And it is wasteful sometimes to me. Just becasome somebody says you should buy it doesn't mean it's the best thing for you. And I want to be financially secure and be able to have extra to spend, so I feel like saving now will make a huge difference for the future.

    Can't WAIT to see what you find out :)


    I'm so surprised that all of you girls are on the same page that I'm on! All this time I thought I was alone - it's such a relief to feel like I've got some support and some people who have the exact SAME ideas and "problems".

    Our biggest problem is our credit card debt - I'm not going to lie. It's embarassing to say "I have credit card debt and I have trouble paying my bills some months" .. (I feel like I'm at an AA meeting) .. but it's TRUE! We say every month that we're going to do better, we're going to save, we're going to do this or that - well, it's OCTOBER and we haven't started yet!

    I've finally got a budget that will hopefully work for us -and I realize that it takes a couple months to work out the kinks in a budget, so I'm prepared for that little piece of frustration.

    I've got a long way to go, but I'm making an effort and I'm GOING TO DO THIS. I'm tired of putting it off, I'm tired of feeling guilty about spending money, I'm tired of NOT having any money, and I'm tired of being stressed out over money. When the problem keeps getting bigger and bigger - something needs to change.

    My husband is a spender as well. Movies, golf, food - you name it. There is always something he wants to buy. He also did the "hide what I bought" thing on me once (or twice, or three times) and whew! - I was mad! It's SO hard getting this whole concept to SINK IN to his brain .. we have our own "spending money" that he can do whatever he wants with it - and that was really working! but now, I can see him slowly dipping back into our checking account and that's not good.

    I like having the seperate savings accounts for things like VACATION, etc.. do you all just have a bunch of savings account or one account and then you KNOW how much is for what?

    ING Direct -- I looked them up this morning actually! I couldn't find out what the minimum balance was and all of that ..did ya'll just open them up online?

  8. Miranda. There isn't a minimum balance with ING. However, I think you get like maybe $25 or something like that if someone who has an account refers you. In that case I think the minimum balance may be $250. If you are interested I can look in to it and send you a link.

    I have 3 accounts. 1 is a savings and I have had that one for a while. I recently have set up 2 new ones. 1 being a vacation fund and 1 being a "baby A" fund. It might be years before we have kids but I wanted to start putting money aside. I don't know if it will be for the things we "need" when we have a baby or if we will put it into a money market account or something similar for college.