I locked in our refinance rate in the first week of January. We had the appraisal done the following week. I called the bank to find out when our settlement would be occurring so that I can gather the necessary funds. They told me that settlement would probably occur in April!!! So much for getting nearly a year's worth of lower interest expense in '09. I guess the good news is that I have longer to save up for our closing costs...
I've tracked all my monetary contributions for the month and here' what I came up with:
I figured $100/wk for daycare that I would pay if I were working. An additional $20/wk for takeout meal. Then I added in all my coupon/rebate/sales savings that I scour the ads for in order to keep our grocery bill reasonable. Lastly, and a big contributor for this month, I "paid" $25/hour for my painting skills as I began painting the interior of our new-to-us home.
So, if I had been working we would have paid someone to paint the house. We would've done takeout more and I wouldn't be monitoring the grocery store sales. And, the kids would need after school care.
I'm still working on calculating my "value" at home. I've included daycare, grocery savings, CVS/Walgreens savings, and added the cost of 1 takeout meal. I figured that if I were working we'd be doing takeout at least 1 more night per week ($20). I put the daycare cost at $125/wk for half day care (daughter is in half day Kindergarten). I've also been getting my house ready to paint (caulking cracks, filling holes, etc.) and I priced that at $25/hour. Do these prices seem reasonable? My son is in 4th grade, but I would also need after school care for him but I have no idea what that would cost, any thoughts?
I've been a SAHM for about 6 months (kids are 5 & 10). Some days I like it and other days I really miss working. New Years was a couple of days where I was in a funk because I felt like I had "lost myself". Since I'm home all the time, I never leave work...dishes always need done, laundry, picking up stuff, groceries, etc.. When I had a job outside of the home I got to not be the maid/cook/chauffeur for at least a few hours a day!
But, the situation at home would make it difficult for me to go back to work right now. That and the area is flooded with people with my skill set due to the financial turmoil of late on Wall Street.
So, I've decided that I'm going to start keeping track of my dollar value at home. Now, I'm not talking about how much I would pay someone to grocery shop, because even if I was employed outside the home, I would still have to do that. I'm talking about things that I wouldn't have time to do if I were employed.
Starting 1/1/09 I will keep track of coupons, rebates, home repairs, etc. that I wouldn't normally have the time or energy to do if I were employed. Let's see just how much I can make!
Today we went to the local Lowes with a 10% off coupon and $40 worth of free gift cards (earned during a gift card sale they offered in Dec) to get insulation for our new to us house. We received a quote for $1200 to insulate the ceiling of our basement (the concrete, unfinished portion). We picked up everything we needed for less than $250! That saves us about $1000!! My husband is currently installing the insulation and wrapping the ductwork that goes through this room too. We can already tell a difference in the rooms above this area!
This is on top of the significant money we spent earlier in this year to have the attic insulated and the house air sealed. That alone increased our efficiency by over 20%. I can't even imagine how much the utility bills are for the neighbors around us that still have the builder grade insulation!
I really hope this is the end of the insulation...I can't imagine that there's anything left to insulate!
I used to get the weekly coupons in the Sunday paper when I lived in PA, but in NJ (or atleast the part I'm in) they come on Saturday. Today I got 5 packs of coupons in the paper! This is great because my coupon box was looking pretty light lately. There were some great coupons and even a $10 rebate on vitamins! I went through the coupons and compared the CVS ad for this week. Looks like I'll get cheap Sudafed for my husband, free shampoo/hairspray, dish soap for .74 and liquid hand soap for .64. Walgreens also has Quaker Instant Oatmeal on sale for $1.99/box, which is a really good price. I just have to find out if I can combine their coupon with a manufacturer's coupon to make this a phenomenal deal!
If my coupons get too low, I've ordered coupons from www.thecouponmaster.com before. You simply pick the coupons you need, pay a small fee per coupon and they mail them to you within a few days. It works great for when you know you'll need multiples to take advantage of sales.
Where does New Years inspiration come from? Why do I feel more inspired to do something today than I did yesterday? Heck if I know! But I think the moral of the story is that you should utilize inspiration whenever it makes itself available. So, in keeping with that thought here is my list of thing to accomplish in 2009:
1. Fully fund our emergency fund by the end of the year.
2. Continue to fund our retirement accounts, increasing the amount by 3% or so.
3. Refinancing the mortgage at or below 5%.
4. Continue to find ways to cut our household expenses.
5. Expand our use of eco-friendly practices at home and while traveling.
6. Participate in more survey and rebate opportunities.
7. Make improvements to our new-to-us house using as much sweat equity as possible.
Now, I hope that New Years inspiration lasts at least a few more days so that I can actually plan ways to accomplish these goals!
I'm so proud of my husband, last night he was repricing his ski trip. He does this A LOT! I think it helps with his overwhelming desire to go skiing, even when logistics make it difficult. Anyway, he noticed that his trip had dramatically dropped in price. He said "I think I'm gonna call Expedia to see if they can adjust my price". After spending about 45 minutes on the phone he was able to cut the price of his trip by over $350! A few years ago, he wouldn't have bothered to try and get the better deal. He's finally caught on!
Today's activities centered on refinancing our home to get a better rate. We sent the application in but our lender told me that rates went up .25 since last night so now we are in a holding pattern until they drop back down. I'm looking for 5% or better. My current note is at 5.75% and going to 5% would lower my interest expense by $280/month! I'm keepng my fingers crossed...
Someone asked the other day if I am the same Minnie that posts in the forums...yes, I am Minnie1928 in the forums.
Another person asked how I get things for free from CVS. Long story short, CVS has a program where they will issue you store credit called Extra Care Bucks. Usually several items during the month are free when factor in the Extra Care Bucks earned. For example, yesterday I bought Excedrin for $3.99. When I paid for them a store credit (Extra Care Buck) printed with my receipt for $3.99. I'll use that credit to purchase the next free (or nearly free) thing at CVS in the coming weeks. I go to www.hotcouponworld.com to see the advertisements in advance so that I can plan my trip a little better. The nice thing about this programs is that you can use manufacturer and CVS coupons to make the deal even better. In the example above I had a $2 manufacturer coupon, so in effect I was paid $2 to take the Excedrin off their shelves!
My money saving idea for the day: I needed to take cookies to an afternoon playdate with one of my daughter's friends. I was going to get some cookies at the bakers...until I saw the price. Being short on time (and cooking skills, but that's a whole other story!!!) I bought some break-n-bake cookies for $2.50 while at the grocery store and baked them before the playdate. Much cheaper and probably just as fattening!
Have a good day everyone!
Thank you to everyone who welcomed me to the blog!! I was totally surprised to see so many people took the time to say hi and welcome!
So, here's today's contribution:
Since we are a single income family now, I'm really trying to watch what we spend our money on. Don't get me wrong, I'm not so tight that we have absolutely no fun around here. However, I am trying to spend less money on the "necessities" so that there's more money left for fun stuff.
This weekend I sent out holiday photo cards to many of our family and friends. But instead of buying them I went to Hallmark.com and used their "smilebox" application. If you haven't done this, I highly recommend it. You can do more than just cards, you can also do recipes, newsletters, etc.. Anyway, I was able to send 20+ photo cards (each containing 4 pictures of the kids) for a total cost of $0! The other plus to using hallmark.com is that ecards are very eco-friendly (no paper, no gas to transport them)!
Most Mondays my daughter has a class at the local Y, which is conveniently located near a CVS. So, every week we stop in and pick up the weekly freebies. Today we got 5 bottles of Listerine, 2 boxes of Excedrin and 2 bags of Hall's cough drops. I had a $2 coupon for the Excedrin so CVS actually paid me $2 to take all this stuff off their hands! So far this month I've gotten over $75 worth of stuff for free!
Well, that's it for today. We'll see what money saving ideas I can come up with tomorrow...
Thanks for the encouragement everyone!
After years of surfing I've decided to actually put some of my thoughts/ideas out there for others to see. This is totally new for me, so bear with me while I learn!
I'm a recently "retired" thirty something mom. Up until a few months ago I had been a life-long banker and now I spend my days at home. Wow! What a difference!
When I was working one of my jobs was to help save my employer money by coming up with new ways to use our existing resources (staff, equipment, money) in more efficient ways. If I do say so myself...I think I was pretty good at it. Now I'm thinking that I would like to share some of this with the outside world.
So, over the next few weeks I will try and start blogging about my new adventures. Hopefully someone will find something useful and maybe I'll find a new career! Stay tuned...