Friday, September 28, 2007

Making Better Financial Choices

I'm still wading through my financial maze. Things I've discovered are. . .

SITUATION: I paid $30 in bank fees this past August and $16 so far in September. This is only on our personal checking account. We have 3 accounts with this bank, 2 are business and 1 is personal. I'm sure the bank fees for business are higher than personal accounts.

SOLUTION: I'll transfer our personal checking account to a free checking account at Charter One Bank. My husband will need to stop direct deposit of his paycheck, I'll need to first determine what is paid automatically through this account, put those bills on a regular payment plan where I need to feel the money/transaction going through my hands. I'll also transfer our personal savings account to the same bank. I'll need to discuss with my accountant what needs to happen in order to transfer my business checking account to another bank. My accountant currently receives my statements (again, I have little idea what's going on), orders my checks, and takes care of everything pertaining to this account. My husband also has a business account at this bank, and, although I didn't see any charges on his last statement, I'm not certain as to why. I'm sure he has bank fees also.

SITUATION: We give our kids $1000's of dollars each year in gifts. This really isn't something we can afford to continue doing though. One of our sons is doing an internship right now and has no time for a paying job. That would be pretty much the only situation where assistance is necessary.

SOLUTION: Have talked with two of the kids regarding the reduction of our gift giving. Because I collect piggy banks, I also am a change saver. We'll take all of the change from these banks once a year and use it towards our christmas gift giving.

I am unaware of how much we pay for utilities, auto insurance, even one of our house payments! Because I have so much on automatic, its caused me to be completely out of touch with what is going on financially.

SOLUTION: Get everything off of automatic payment. Begin to use cash for daily purchases, consciously pay bills needing to be paid through online bill pay (free service at Charter One), get in touch with my money. Find out where we're spending our money and determine if that is where we actually want it spent.

I'm committed to creating a system of debt reduction and financial responsibility.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Shopping for Groceries

Well, today I did it. I began looking at the sale prices on groceries as if I would be eating, washing my hair, blowing my nose, etc. for a long period of time.

What do you do when the sign says 10 for $10? Do you buy 10? Do you think you must buy 10 to get the sale price? Do you check to see if a $1 for the item is the best deal?

In the past, I did not buy 10 items, I don't believe I must buy 10 of the items although my husband does, and, I just assumed that the $1 was the best deal. Not anymore.

I found some items on sale that were actually more expensive than the larger sized item. I decided to go ahead and fill my cupboards with the sale priced items. Tonight I spent $117 at Krogers, applied for a discount card since my husband has ours, when I checked out at the register my receipt indicated that I had saved $53.00! That's pretty amazing considering that each item I purchased was something that we either eat on a regular basis, or we will be using for our personal hygiene.

Since I've been shopping weekly at an arabic grocery store, I haven't been to the larger stores in over a month. I love that I don't have to go to the larger stores every week now. My husband and I have a fairly consistent eating plan that I believe we both really enjoy. My problem are the additional trips that I've been making to drugstores so I can get my m&m fix. When I say m&m fix, I'm saying a large, 21 ounce bag of them. Definately an addiciton that I'm going to have to deal with.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Financial Blogs

Reading financial blogs is changing the way I think about money.

When I was younger, a single mom, a full time college student and always struggling to have enough money for my families survival, I was creative regarding money. I'm now older, own a couple of homes, a new car, and more and I've been less creative. Its as if I set my sites on creating a situation of wealth, attained it, and eliminated the tools and techniques I used to get me here.

What I've discovered by revisiting being financially conservative is that I actually enjoyed the process of creativity that was required when I had little money. Certainly having little money was not fun, it was frightening at times when I didn't know where the rent money would come from, however, just add a few more dollars on the amount of rent due and the feeling of fear is still there for me. It may just not be as obvious because its hidden behind a big home on a large piece of land.

I'm looking for that creative spark again. Finding ways to cut back our expenses actually seemed to enliven both my husband and I and woke up our minds. I'm wanting to reduce my debts! I intend on owning at least one home in my life that is paid for. I'm looking forward to knowing what it's like to live a financially responsible and orgainized life again.

The past several years I haven't been paying attention too much to my bills, I've put them all on automatic and wasn't even aware of them. I don't know how much I pay for my electricity, heat, water, auto insurance, etc each month. I don't recognize when a bill has gone up without my being aware of the increase.

My goal is to know where my money is going and then to consciously make the decision if that is where I want my resources to go. I'm willing to learn how much I'm paying for these services and to keep track of how I can reduce the amount I'm currently paying. After all I could certainly use the money more than AT&T or the electric company right now.