It seems that you cannot turn around these days without reading or hearing something about the current "mortgage crisis". Part of me feels bad for people who might lose their homes but another part of me wants to yell at people for being irresponsible. Just today I was reading an article about a family in danger of losing their home. They had refinanced to a interest only loan with a high interest rate cause they had some "blemishes" on their credit record. The reason they refinanced - to have more money to pay for their SUV and other vehicle. At what point does someone decide to do something like this - just keep on spending and digging themselves in deeper and then act surprised when the walls of the hole they dug finally start collapsing on them. Along this same vein, I just found out recently that a close friend is having her house foreclosed on and it is going up for sheriffs sale. They have three kids and I feel really bad that they might lose their home, but on the other hand, I cannot help feeling angry at them. I only found out because they had a notice posted on their house by the sheriffs department. I don't feel mad cause I think they had any obligation to tell me. I feel mad cause they are continuing to live in denial. The same week the notice was posted they went out to dinner (just because, and they do this several times a month). And just yesterday my friend called to ask my opinion about where she should have her daughter's birthday party. I felt like screaming - How about at home - bake a cake, plan some games and put the money you save toward your mortgage. I did not say that cause she has not mentioned the foreclosure at all. I was going to mention it and ask if there was anything I could do to help cause I am pretty good and budgeting and figuring out essentials from non-essentials but now I am just frustrated with them. I checked the sherrifs dept website and saw that this case has been on-going for at least 6 months and this is the 3rd time in 3 years that they have been served by their mortgage company. During this time, they have eaten many meals out, she worked with a personal trainer several times a week for months and all their kids had birthdays parties at movies, bowling, etc. I don't think there is anything wrong with any of these choices when you have the money but if you are constantly threatened with foreclosure, I think it is fair to guess that you should not be spending money on these non-essentials. The whole situation just makes me want to scream at them! I just want to ask them "What the **** are you thinking???"
Archive for August, 2007
My DD14 has been wanting a desk for a long time. Now that we are almost finished painting her room and will be re-arranging her furniture, she has been on a hunt for a reasonable desk that she could paint if needed. Nothing fancy but she really wants a desk. We have been looking at thrift stores, garage sales and I also tried free-cycle. Until today, no real luck. She has even been talking of buying a desk (retail) with her own money, but I kept telling her that she just had to be patient and she would find a desk. Well, this afternoon we had a few spare minutes and a townhouse development nearby was having a garage sale. We drove by but it was so hot that only a few people still had anything out. As luck would have it, one was a really nice oak roll top desk. We asked the price, they wanted $100.00 This was actually a fair price for a nice solid oak roll top desk, but more than she was looking to spend at a garage sale. I left my name and phone number and told them to call if they were willing to take $60.00 for the desk. Lo and behold, we got a call later this afternoon and now a beatiful oak roll top desk is sitting in her room. It is a bit worn in a few area but very solid with many drawers, nooks and crannies etc. I told her if she ever got tired of it, I will buy it from her for her original $60.00 She is thrilled to get such a nice desk and to make it even better, not five minutes after we got home one of her pet sitting customers came by to pay her for watching their cats and rabbits this week. Guess what she earned - yup $60.00 so she made back what she had paid for the desk. It gave both of us a really nice feeling. Yeah for garage sales and for not being afraid to ask. I almost drove away before leaving my number but then I though, what have I got to lose. Boy am I glad I decided to leave our number. It is one of those tips that I had read before but never really tried. I will definitely be trying that again in the future. It feels really good to know that my DD got a desk she really loves for a price she felt comfortable with.
I would say my best money advice is to put on your thinking cap when you need something. Instead of running out to buy the thing you need, get creative. Maybe something else would work, you could borrow it from someone, make one yourself etc. If none of these works, keep that thinking cap of while your purchase - where can you get whatever it is for the best value? Can you purchase it from E-bay, a garage sale, a thrift store, with a store coupon etc. Always try to avoid just plain going to the store and paying full price.
I read an article last week from the Dollar Stretcher on building your emergency fund. Most of it was things I would say I had already heard before but one bit really caught my attention. It was mentioned that paying your bills more frequently (as in when they come in rather than saving up for one or two sessions a month) saves you money. Actually, the idea is that it makes you more aware on a daily basis of what your intake and outgo is and thus less likely to spend/splurge on those smaller things that can really add up over time. I have just recently, in the last two months, switched myself over to paying the bills each week, rather than twice a month when DH gets paid. I would definitely say that I am saving more money this way. In the past, I would pay all bills due with his check, put a bit toward savings and anything left over would fund cash purchases til the next check. It seemed like I was always running out of money before the next check. Now, every two weeks I put aside 1/2 the mortgage payment, put aside a bit for savings and split the remainder into two - half for each week. I then pay that weeks bills with that weeks half and what is left over is for cash purchases that week. At the beginning of the second week, I pay any new bills and continue the same way. Since I am paying the bills at the beginning, I know I must make the remaining money cover our expenses that week, or better yet, reduce expenses and bank any left over for the emergency fund. I am more aware if I only have $100 dollars that I must make it buy both gas and groceries that I cannot buy $90 worth of groceries and a cute dog toy when I am in PetSmart. I find it forces me to be even more disciplined and even better at stretching my money. If I feel I really must have that cute dog toy, I will have to wait til the end of the week and buy it with any remaining money or even better, by that point, I will have decided that the dogs don't really need another toy to destroy and saved myself the $10.00. Anyway, this system seems to be working for me and I was wondering what others thought of this concept?
In the past two days I have had two separate incidents that just reconfirmed for me the need to pay attention as a cashier is ringing up your purchases. Tuesday evening I ran to Walmart for a few things while my DD8 was at karate. I had coupons for things we needed and Walmart also has the best prices in our area on their store brand of contact solution (under $3 compared to $5 or more at other places). I had a $3 coupon off two hair care products that I regularly use, making it better than a buy-one get-one deal. The cashier had a bit of trouble with the coupon at first but then resolved it (or seemed to ) and went on. Since I wasn't sure he had actually resolved it, I checked the receipt immediately. He had not taken off the $3 coupon. I needed to get back and he was already ringing up the next person so I just asked for my coupon back so I can use it in the future and actually get credit for it. Then yesterday, I was grocery shopping and the cashier rang up a $3 dollar item one extra time. I could hear the extra beep and asked her to stop and check. Sure enough, it had rung up an extra time. She deducted the extra with no fuss. If I had not been paying attention each time, I would have been out $6 total. Not a huge deal but $3 a day would really add up over the course of a month. I am an honest person and have no problem paying a store for what I am buying but I certainly want to make sure that I am not paying for things I am not buying. I could go home and check my receipts but after the fact it is pretty hard to prove that you did not buy something that the receipt says you did. Much easier in my book to be aware as your purchases are rung up.
We got gifted with 4 tickets to a major league baseball game by my boss who has season tickets. They are great seats and my DH and three oldest love baseball. They are going to get hoagies and tailgate once they get to the game. Of course, I know they will also buy something to eat at the game but the cost of eating hoagies in the parking lot sure beats the cost of dinner at the ballpark. Plus, free tickets, you cannot beat that. That leaves my youngest DD and myself on our own for the evening which is just fine with us. She has karate and after that she has requested a swing by the local pet store to see the puppies. I personally will not buy a puppy from a pet store, nor patronize a store that sells puppies and kittens but I have no problem just going in to let her look at them. Then we will take her bike to a local school and work on her biking skills in the empty parking lot. How's that for a cost free evening of fun. Of course, when we finally get back home, it is still more painting for me but I can finally see the light at the end of the tunnel. I am also looking forward to reading my new library book "America's Cheapest Family" while she is doing her karate. I will blog about it after I finish it.
Yes, I am still painting my daughters rooms. DD13's room is mostly done, just have to move her bunkbeds to get to the wall behind them. Then sponge the walls from about chair rail height down. DD16's room will be ready to roll the walls and ceiling by midweek. After that, her room will be done except for her second set of built in bookshelves. Both girls have built ins in their rooms with 5 removable shelves each (X 3 sets total = 15 shelves). Each shelf needs 3 coats of paint on all sides so this is part of what makes it seem like I will never be finished painting. At this point, my goal is to be done by the time they all go back to school in 3 weeks.
My silly spending spree was not a real spending spree, just a $25.00 of unplanned spending. I took 3 of my kids and 1 dog on Saturday to the opening of a new PETCO near us. I really just wanted to check out the store, see what giveaways they had and get the dog some socialization. My dog did great, got lots of petting and attention and most important in her eyes, treats! I was perusing the dog aisles, just to see what they had and what their prices were like when my kids reminded me that we were out of dog "cookies". I often bake homemade treats for the dogs but have not had the time (with all the painting) or the interest (too hot to bake in the summer). So, $4+ dollars for a box of dog treats. I told myself, absolutely nothing else, just the dog treats. Then we walked down the aisle with the bowls etc. and saw the largest stainless dog bowl I have ever seen. It is huge, probably could hold at least a half gallon of water without being filled fully. Water bowls are an issue in our house with two large dogs who drink a lot and SPILL a lot. I am forever wiping up puddles and small ponds created by someone getting a drink. And our current bowl, while rather large, is always running dry and needing to be filled up. So, my son convinced me to give this "super sized bowl" a try. It was only $19.95 so I rationalize that I will have it virtually forever so it will work out to less than a dollar a year, at a minimum. (How's that for the power of rationalization?). Anyway, I am pleased to report that the dogs like the new bowl and we have not had a single pond since Saturday afternoon. I forbid the kids to fill the bowl more than 1/2. Since it is so big, this makes it much harder to slosh when drinking so we just have small drips, not tidal waves. It may sound like a small thing, but trust me, it created a major mess and at least one kid week was taken down while walking past the former bowl. So, in addition to being aesthetically nicer, I look at is as a savings on future medical bills since now no one is in danger of breaking a leg or arm while slipping on a pool of water. I guess the dogs will just have to find some other way of making a mess. I am sure that they are up to the challenge!