or Connect
Mothering › Mothering Forums › Natural Living › The Mindful Home › Frugality & Finances › I'm getting out of debt, with the snowball method. Wanna play?
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:

I'm getting out of debt, with the snowball method. Wanna play? - Page 2

post #21 of 302
Quote:
Originally Posted by Red
How are we managing Christmas?
I am so glad you brought this up.

This is who we buy for:
-kids of our family (we have 7 nieces/nephews + 2 of our own children)
-our moms
-his stepdad
-g-ma
-my sort-of-aunt (she doesn't have a lot of $ and she's blind)
-my almost-homeless cousin
-my other cousin who has no real family besides her mom (and she always gets us stuff).

We usually spend $30/child (more on our own, closer to $100/child), $50 on our moms, $20-30 for all other adults. By my quick estimation, this comes out to $660. DH might say we should get something for each other, too. Dunno. In the past, this was no problem for us (before we bought a house and when we had no debt) and now, NO WAY. That's more than our general living budget for a month, and that would be assuming we spent zero extra (not even gas for a car). Oh, and we have had to do one of those grab bags things in the past, too (even though I tried talking people out of it) but I think this year we're finally giving it up.

I wanted to see if I could somehow spend a little of our extra money every month toward Christmas (shop early, get sales) but now when I look at the figure . . .ack. Save for my almost aunt and almost homeless cousin, NO ONE in my family needs anything. We all have too much as it is. All of the kids have entirely too many toys (my sister is buying wooden toys because she has literally bought everything she wants from Toys R Us . . .her words) and our parents are comfortable financially.

And then, EVERY month there are gifts to buy for someone (usually a child's birthday). My latest situation . . .my dear friend and I have birthdays close together. I don't usually buy my friends anything . . .maybe I take them out to eat, but that's about it. So, I didn't get her anything. But then, she got me presents worth over $100. I am at a loss. Other than a nice thank you note, I have no idea what to do.

Sorry to go off like this. I am just lost!

Oh, and Red, I think it sounds reasonable! I think you can do it!
post #22 of 302
Mizelenius, oooh I agree... for xmas we have the 3 of us (plus one on the way), my parents, his parents, my grandma, his 3 grandparents, my bro (and gf), his sis, his bro/wife/2kids, and my niece. TOO MUCH! And 10 bdays between now and Feb 1. UGH! My plan isn't much yet, but will include making something for MIL, baking for the grandparents, gift cards for the kids ($15 to go to the toy store and pick ANYTHING is tons of fun when you are 10), and itunes for our siblings. Cut way back from previous years, yet still $$$ more than I'd like tos pend.

And yes, I think a thank you note is plenty, really, people shouldn't expect gifts back!

Red, you can do it! After dumping our savings acct the other night (and paying off the 2 lowest balances) we have left $3600 and $8900 on 2 ccs, about $11000 in a student loan (grad school for me), and then just the house. Our cars are paid, our utilities are up to date (actually we overpaid the gas bill on budget, so that $ comes back this week and will become the payment to the midwife for the planned HB in Feb.)

I WILL do taxes Feb 1 if I can, I really don't want to put it off for months like I usually do, and we should have a return tihs time (even if it's small) to send off to cc.

IF eveyrthing is perfect, and we have no crazy emergencies, I think 2.5 yrs to be debt free and then one year to save the BIG emergency fund, and then woohoo!!!
post #23 of 302
Thread Starter 
Mizelenius, I have an idea for the blind aunt! Get in touch with Perkins school for the deaf, in Massachusetts. (I'll ask dd if she has an address.) You can order books on tape, newspapers, magazines, etc, for free. They come in the mail, and are returned by putting them in your own mailbox. YOu don't even pay postage. I don't know if they only operate in Massachusetts...but by setting her up with the system, you'd be doing her a great favor. They have Braille too.

DD has a severe, well, two severe learning disabilities and is able to use the system. It's great. They even send a tape player!

And CUT THOSE LISTS! Sheesh, I'd be sick if I had to buy for all those people.

I do baskets for lots of my list. Homemade stuff. Jams, cookies mix in a jar, CHEAP mugs (like a buck apiece), flavored vinegars or oils. I make the stuff in the basket have a theme, maybe cookie mix, a few packages of cocoa, 6 different tea bags (the individually wrapped ones).

My kids each got a santa mug a few years back from their aunt, some cocoa packets and a movie. THey LOVED it, and they were teens!

My favorite aunt gets jam, always. She loves it. I do three jars, with a piece of pretty cloth over the lids. We pick the berries in September, so it's long since paid for.

I'm thinking of doing a grab this year. Everyone picks one name, and you HAVE to make that persons gift. (Burn em a CD, knit em a scarf, write up recipes that you know they'll like)

My friend gives my kids $50 each for Christmas! I freak! Her kids are lucky if I get them anything.

Funny, I give YOU guys ideas and I feel better. Whew!


lisa2976, before you pay all those bills, get $1000 in the bank. Emergencies are how I got to this place. Everyone has emergencies. If the car breaks ddown and you have no savings, you'll HAVE to use a cc. If you have $1000 and the car breaks down, you'll just loan yourself the money, put it back a certain amount a month.


For all those kids birthdays...can you get stuff like sidewalk chalk, bubbles, jump ropes, or really cheap sleds etc? Are they old enough to like to cook? Jar of cookie mix (search the web for cookie mix in a jar) a cookie sheet and a spatula?

Thanks fo rthe encouragement! I CAN do this! I DO believe in Santa!
post #24 of 302
Lisa, yes, I think we are just going to have to trim, trim, trim the budget!

Red, thank you for the idea but my aunt already does that. She's pretty well set up! I usually try to give her some other sort of sensory present . . .some CDs, some handmade (not by me) soap, coffee that she loves, things like that. I am going to think about who I can cut OUT instead of down on, like you said! I'm going to use some of your ideas for homemade stuff, too.

As for the gift exchange idea that you had, I tried to convince my family to do that. I thought it would be fun and bring back the true meaning of Christmas. No one wanted to (my family isn't too flexible with Christmas). I also tried to do a "green grab bag" where you give something cool that you ALREADY OWN (but don't want) and recycle it as a new gift. Regift and save money AND the environment. No one liked that either. One year (when we were doing well with $) my mom asked me what I wanted. She gives me pretty nice gifts. I said I truly had everything I needed and I just wanted her to donate to the Heifer foundation. She LAUGHED and wouldn't do it. This coming from a woman who is so into social justice you wouldn't believe. Bah, humbug!

Re: birthday presents. You would not BELIEVE birthdays I have been attending lately. Kids get bubbles, whole bubble kits, even Build-a-Bears as the party FAVORS. It is so crazy.

Man, I am already getting stressed and it's only August. :
post #25 of 302
Someone on another board mentioned the book Unplug the Christmas Machine. Has anyone read it? I looked to see if it's at my local library and it is, so I'm checking it out tonight!
post #26 of 302
We draw names with DH's family. It was a great idea but now even that has gotten bad money wise. One gift for one person, right? Now that we're drawing names and we only buy for one person DH's family now buys many multiple presents for the person they drew. I've considered suggesting a price max for gifts. Then again I figure anyone giving gifts above the "norm" should not assume to get the same in return. I also wish we drew names much sooner so I could have a long time to scout out deals. We draw names on Thanksgiving and then it's crunch time. Sigh.
post #27 of 302
Red, yep, we have the little emergency fund already, and a second one for the midwife bill in Feb. - it's the 2.5 yrs and then start on the BIG emergency fund that makes me giggle!

Sidewalk chalk. Yes! Dollar store is my friend!
post #28 of 302
Quote:
Originally Posted by Kleine Hexe
We draw names with DH's family. It was a great idea but now even that has gotten bad money wise. One gift for one person, right? Now that we're drawing names and we only buy for one person DH's family now buys many multiple presents for the person they drew. I've considered suggesting a price max for gifts. Then again I figure anyone giving gifts above the "norm" should not assume to get the same in return. I also wish we drew names much sooner so I could have a long time to scout out deals. We draw names on Thanksgiving and then it's crunch time. Sigh.
We draw names in our fam too...but we do the draw at christmas after dinner for next year. (The only drawback to that is remembering who has who....Grandma is the Ultimate Keeper Of The List). I think we have a limit of $40 per gift.

Not bad, works pretty well....some people go overboard, but not many. The big thing in our family is gag gifts-a pair of really nice gloves inside a metal box with a chain welded inside that lets it open just enough to pour out the peanuts that were put in with the gloves....or a nice coat inside a cardboard box inside a wooden box that's completely screwed shut (and glued on three sides-the bottom is left unglued so you can get into it)

The time and effort and ingenuity some people (namely my father) come up with is absolutely hilarious...and usually, the bigger the box, the smaller the gift...a huge box full of other nested boxes with a "treasure hunt" clue inside..that goes over big with the kids-

HTH w/ Xmas....

Happy note-DH got a call last night from a dealership owner that he used to work with-not for-who's been after dh to come and work for him for about 7 years or so called again last night (we've been dragging our feet on dh going to work because it would mean moving to Moses Lake-not where we want to be right now, for family and financial reasons) with a job offer that is here in town! He said he doesn't know just what yet, but if the rumors that dh was looking for a job were true, let him think about it for a couple days because he wanted dh in his organization! If he does find a place for DH he would start in October. (Fingers crossed while I do a happy dance!...)
post #29 of 302
OK, I'm lovin' this snowball idea. We have 2 cc bills (that is our debt other than DH's school loan and our mortgage). Anyway, we SHOULD be able to pay off the smaller bill in less than 2 months (if DH sells his TV like he said he was going to . . .). I am so excited! Then we tackle the big one. Not so excited about that, but poco a poco!
post #30 of 302
Quote:
For this past week, for the 1st time in my life, I have been tracking EVERY PENNY. I know exactly what we've spent at every moment. Just by doing this, we have stopped spending on anything extra.
Miz
could you possibly elaborate about your system for tracking every cent? I've tried to do this before (it seems like it's the 1st step of every budget/get out of debt plan), but after assiduously writing down amounts on scraps of paper in my purse while out, I don't know how to conglomerate the info into some kind of system that will give me an overview.

Were you already set up with all your spending in Quicken - does the penny tracking fit into that somehow? Or an excel spreadsheet?

thank you! I am determined to really do this starting Sept 1.
post #31 of 302
Thread Starter 
I was never able to manage tracking every penny! My own system is a bit different.

I wrote down all my bills, using a columnar pad. (accounting pad) I write the dates of each Saturday across the top. (Dh gets paid on Friday) Bills down the side. I squeeze in the due dates.

Then I just allowed a small amount each week, in the grocery budget to cover odd items. I figure a little extra in the gas budget to cover DH needing an occassional Coke or whatever.

For the first month I saved every receipt, entered them that night in my columnar pad, under the right category.

Welcome to the group!
post #32 of 302
Quote:
Originally Posted by traceface
Miz
could you possibly elaborate about your system for tracking every cent?
Well, like I said . . .it's still new to me so I'm sure it has flaws I haven't figured out yet! And I guess it's not really tracking every cent . . .it's tracking things that we have daily control over.

First, DH and I have a budget. Some things are fixed (like the mortgage) and some things are set but we have direct control (like groceries). I count things like utilities to be set for this purpose because I can't write down on a daily basis how much electricity I've used, for example.

So, our 2 main categories of flexible but set are:
(1) groceries
and
(2) the general fund . . .things like gas, clothes, haircuts, etc. come from there.
These are the only 2 things I am tracking. (Though info on everything appears on our online banking, and I can get the info right into Quicken from the bank's online service.)

I just use Excel for now and have the following columns:
date, amount, category (this applies esp. to the "general" fund), who (who spent it), START groceries, END groceries, START general, END general

For example: We can spend $250 for groceries every 2 weeks.
- I put 250 in the "start groceries" section.
-When we spend money on food, the info gets filled in, and then it gets deducted from the total.
-I put that total in the "end groceries" column.
-Next time we spend on groceries, the next "start" gets filled in with the amount that is left, and whatever we've spent gets deducted from that, and entered into the "end" column.
You could do this on a monthly basis instead, or whatever works.

As for cash, I just started a separate database for that. I mark the amount and label it as "cash" from our general fund, but then track how it was spent in another database. Again, just a "start" and "end" per cash transaction (let's say DH took out $40 . . .I'll track how that $40 gets spent. If I take out $20, I'll start a new section to track that.)

I think having a million categories, whatever your system, is too hard (at least for me) initially. Keeping track of money within just a few lets me know just where we stand. Oh, and the "general" start fund amount is that what we CAN spend . . .in other words, we can spend ALL of it, and it would still mean we have money left for the mortgage, utilities, groceries, etc.

I got DH and myself a little notebook and pen, but am finding that only cash needs to be written down right away since it's so easy for me to forget. Everything else shows up on our online banking anyway.

I send DH daily e-mail updates to let him know how much we have left to spend in each category.

I hope this helps a little!
post #33 of 302
If anyone needs spreadsheets there are a bunch here:

http://www.geocities.com/pholt33/budget.html
post #34 of 302
Can I join? I'm a snowballer too. I'm paying off my most expensive debts first though. I hate the thought of paying money and having half of it being eaten up by interest. Here is a handy snowball calculator if anyone needs one: http://www.whatsthecost.com/snowball.aspx

I'm avoiding interest for the moment, by using 0% credit cards. I need to find a new card soon as the 0% offers on my cards will end in the next few months.

After the initial excitement of making my debt free plan at the begining of the year I feel like I have started to let things slip. Over the last month I have bought several things. Nothing major. Just little purchases here and there. But they are little purchases I can't really afford. I feel like we need to sit down and have another review. I had set my grocery budget too tight, so I couldn't make the payments to the credit card that I'd planned to make. I think we need another pep talk to get ourselves motivated again.

On the subject of Christmas, what we really need to do is decide a budget for Christmas, divide it by 12 and then save that amount each month. But we haven't done that. Who knows what we will end up doing present-wise.

I did have a system where I wrote down everything I'd spent. Have let that slip now too... I used to use a little accounts book. Usually I'd update it weekly. I rarely use cash, so I was able to track what I'd spent money on using online banking. I had seperate pages for bills, groceries, misc. and credit cards. I also noted down everytime I'd take cash out and what it had been used for.

Hoping to get some more motivation and feel inspired again soon.
post #35 of 302
Quote:
Originally Posted by sarah0404
On the subject of Christmas, what we really need to do is decide a budget for Christmas, divide it by 12 and then save that amount each month.
That is my goal-- for everything. I'm readin/skimming a bunch of books on money right now (from the library ) and one of them says to do this. It says you're going to spend it anyway so put it aside month by month.

Since I'm not mentally ready for that (more motivated to put all extra to cc debt) but I KNOW Christmas is coming, I am going to start now to save (and shop the sales). I'm going to put some aside from each paycheck, as well as reduce what we normally spend. Better late than never I guess.
post #36 of 302
Sorry, our only debt is our mortgage which we now add to the principal every month.

But, I read about 3 years ago the fly lady book. I started my declutter bug and it went on for 6 weeks. After reading her book, I called the local Catholic charity St Vincent depaul since they do a pickup. I scheduled it and said 3 boxes (I had 3 empty boxes). Well I started to declutter. I followed the rules listed and I unloaded at least 2 closetfulls of stuff. My 3 boxes ended up being 6 and 3 large hefty bags. About 80% of this stuff was gifted to us one way or another.

I tmade me think- what happend to all the gifts I sent out there? A lot of times, I visit the gift getters homes and do not see them. So obviously my gifts were stuffed in a closet or box somewhere as well. We had all this extra space in our house and it makes it easier to clean and it feels spacy and calm. That xmas, I told my family we were out of the exchange and we were "adopting" a child off the giving tree at church.

It went over like a led leppalin of course but we are not stuck with a bunch of stuffables after xmas nor our we stuck w a huge mastercard bill or running around trying to buy this stuff. Its taken a few holidays, but now everyone understands that we dont need anymore stuff. We also do not give to each other, but buy something we want together if the money is there.

Since trimming the gift budget down to a bare min, it creates less tension on who spent more etc. That was always an issue in DH's family. Also, for birthdays we dont exchange and for parties like the build a bear party, we buy an afforable gift. Usually an educational gift.
post #37 of 302
Thread Starter 
Amys1st, I love your holiday gift giving idea!
post #38 of 302
For gift giving occasions DH and I always buy something we need for the house.

I've asked the grandparents to give the kids money for activities and such. DH's mom gave our ds money for piano lessons. For mother's day I asked for a much needed shoe storage bin. My parent's bought us new tires for the van. I really try to avoid getting and giving nonessential items.
post #39 of 302
I'm joining a bit late, but better late than never, right?

Dh and I are a bit overwhelmed with getting started, but fortunately, it's the beginning of the school year -- we're both teachers -- and not only do we both get three extra days of pay for inservices in our first paycheck, but I'll be teaching an extra class this year, so that's more money too. All of that will be going toward paying off our credit cards. Before we had dd, we never had cc debt, but the price of her daycare has been a real budget-breaker, so we end up using our credit cards for things we otherwise would have had savings for.

As far as the Dave Ramsey program goes, we've almost got our first $1000 set aside. Actually, we had it, but then my car needed emergency repairs, and now it's back down to $650. Phooey. I'm glad we didn't have to use the credit card, but still, that was a bummer. Nevertheless, our goal is to be debt-free by the end of this school year, so hopefully we'll be able to do that!
post #40 of 302
Quote:
Originally Posted by msjd123
Nevertheless, our goal is to be debt-free by the end of this school year, so hopefully we'll be able to do that!
That is great. I wish I could even hope to have debt paid off by next year. We'll be doing this for awhile.
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:
  Return Home
  Back to Forum: Frugality & Finances
Mothering › Mothering Forums › Natural Living › The Mindful Home › Frugality & Finances › I'm getting out of debt, with the snowball method. Wanna play?