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UPDATE: 2012 Savings Challenge

Come join me!   Please leave a comment below of what your financial goals are this year!   Let’s work together to achieve them.

I hope everyone had a wonderful 4th of July.  We had a stressful one.  We were out of power for over 108 hours starting on the Friday before and didn’t get it back until the morning of the 4th.  Thankfully we had generator power thanks to my wonderful husband.   But it was limited and so very hot.  After we got back online getting posts done has had to be put on the back burner.  I needed to take care of my family and get some things done.   I’m glad I’m back.

2012 Savings Challenge

Our financial goals for 2012:

Short term goals

Refinancing our mortgage. 

DONE! 

Finding a financial adviser

Still need to work on this one.  I need to get my ducks in a row.

Save towards a vacation or 2?

We got to enjoy a vacation!   It was amazing!   We used our savings for that but it looks like we have to wait a bit longer before we do another one.   We need to cut back a bit more on our spending in order to reach this goal.  This might be on hold.

New Goal!   Cutting our Grocery Bill again!

Groceries lately are eating at our expenses because my boys are drinking a lot of milk and we are being so good about eating better.  We are eating a lot of veggies, and fresh fruits.  I’m so proud that we are eating better  but being on a single income now and feeding 5 on our budget has been a big challenge.  I increased the budget but we are still over spending.  Now I’m trying to figure out other ways to cut back.

Pet Costs have increased

Our cats are getting older and have some behavioral issues so we are working on that.  It’s the stress of having kids.  It has also been something I haven’t wanted to concentrate on. So I’m helping them.  The costs this month will be well over $500 for the consult, vet bill, food and other materials.  Thankfully this won’t be a routine so I might consider this an emergency expense for us.   I will be increasing the budget for them due to the increase in food costs.

Long Term goals:

Saving for a car. 

This will have to be a smaller savings as we go forward.

Saving more for retirement.

This is one of the topics I will be asking the financial planner when we interview them.

Saving more for college.

This is the next topic I want to ask the financial planner.  We are investing the minimum in our kids 529k plan but how much should we try and save after our retirement above?  Or should we take the additional we would have put towards retirement and put it towards college savings?

Photo Credit:  FreePixels.com
These are my own opinions and personal views please see my Disclosure policy.
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UPDATE: 2012 Savings Challenge

Come join me!   Please leave a comment below of what your financial goals are this year!   Let’s work together to achieve them.

2012 Savings Challenge

Our financial goals for 2012:

Short term goals

Refinancing our mortgage. 

DONE!  CHECK!  We did it!   We refinanced our mortgage and got a lower rate and lower payment.   Like I mentioned in my earlier post be prepared for anything.   Right now even those with excellent credit are having problems with the refinancing process so take a deep breath and go for it.  It will be a bumpy ride but worth the savings.

Prepare yourself!

1. Make at least 2 copies of your most recent pay stubs or income statements.

2. Collect all of your bank statements for the last month including checking, savings, CDs, 401k, and IRAs.  Make at least 2 copies.

3.  Collect all of your debt statements for the last month including mortgage, Credit Card, and Student loans. Make at least 2 copies.

4.  Make at least 2 copies of any other assets you have.

5.  Look at your most recent credit score.  Have it handy.

6. Then start talking to your banks and referenced brokers for some quick quotes and figure out which one you want to work with.

7.  Be prepared that it will be a bumpy ride but it is worth it!

The good news is we are now saving more than $400 a month on interest!  In addition, this is STILL OUR ONLY debt.

The plan is to pay ourselves back first to cover the closing costs before we can use the additional savings for other goals.

Finding a financial adviser

So far these last few months have been well stressful and a lot of work.  I think I got drained from the refinancing process that I haven’t taken the time to find a financial adviser.  I have a couple names but we haven’t taken the next steps yet to interview them.   This is a goal for the next couple of months.  Any suggestions?

Save towards a vacation or 2?

We have saved for this goal and we are looking forward to enjoy it.  We might even splurge and go on an additional vacation but we haven’t made a final decision.  We also are looking at ways to travel in a frugal way.  Now that we are a family of 5 we love places that feed kids for FREE or have deep discounts for off season times.   We can’t wait!

 

Long Term goals:

Saving for a car. 

Still need to create an account for this goal and start doing it. It might be a smaller savings per month but I’m sure we will do it faster now that we finished saving for our short term goals.

We have 5 vehicles!  Yes, you read that right.  We  know since the vehicles are older that we need to do MORE  maintenance and there might come a time when it will make sense to buy a newer vehicle.   We hope to be completed with this goal in a couple years.   I plan to write more posts about why we own so many vehicles and how we make it frugal.  Here is Part 1 and Part 2 posts I wrote a couple years ago about our cheap SUV.

Saving more for retirement.

This is one of the topics I will be asking the financial planner when we interview them.  I want to know are we investing ok in our IRAs and 401ks.   If I stop working where should I transfer my 401k?  Are we balanced through our accounts?  Are we choosing the right options?   Lots of questions.

Saving more for college.

This is the next topic I want to ask the financial planner.  We are investing the minimum in our kids 529k plan but how much should we try and save after our retirement above?  Or should we take the additional we would have put towards retirement and put it towards college savings?

Photo Credit:  FreePixels.com
These are my own opinions and personal views please see my Disclosure policy.
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2012 Savings Challenge

 

Come join me!   Please leave a comment below of what your financial goals are this year!   Let’s work together to achieve them.

I’m super excited to share our 2012 Savings Challenge.  Of course, I’m sharing this in February.  Time flies when you are having fun.

As most of my readers know, in March 2011 we were blessed with identical twin boys!  It amazes me that we have survived the year.   We also have “Doodle” our wonderful daughter who is a great big sister.  If you missed it this is the review of 2011.

2012 Savings Challenge

Our financial goals for 2012:

Short term goals

Refinancing our mortgage.  

Rates are very low and it makes perfect sense.  I highly recommend refinancing but be prepared for anything!

In January, we took the plunge and now we are almost at the end of the process.   I plan to write a bit about our experience.   We’ve refinanced a couple of times in our lifetime and I will say this time it wasn’t easy at all.   The laws have changed and it has made it very difficult.

It will take us about 12 months to recoup the closing costs and another 12 months to cover the cost of paying down our mortgage.  One of the issues we had is our appraisal didn’t come in as high as we needed so we will have to use some savings to pay down our principle.   The appraisal process is subjective to the appraiser.  *sigh*

The good news is we will save more than $400 a month on interest!  That is so exciting.  

In addition, this is our ONLY debt.

Finding a financial adviser

We went to a financial adviser several years ago and really liked the idea of having someone that can look at our financial situation and confirm we are on the right or wrong track.  We are looking for an adviser.

Save towards a vacation. 

This is a goal we are so looking forward to do.  It is an immediate goal since we will be doing it this year.  We plan on saving each month in a separate account.  We also are looking at ways to travel in a frugal way.  Now that we are a family of 5 we love places that feed kids for FREE or have deep discounts for off season times.   We can’t wait!

 

Long Term goals:

Saving for a car. 

We have 5 vehicles!  Yes, you read that right.  We  know since the vehicles are older that we need to do MORE  maintenance and there might come a time when it will make sense to buy a newer vehicle.   We hope to be completed with this goal in a couple years.   I plan to write more posts about why we own so many vehicles and how we make it frugal.  Here is Part 1 and Part 2 posts I wrote a couple years ago about our cheap SUV.

Saving more for retirement.

Since I’m working very little now I only include the matching that my company offers.  My husband is maxing out on his 401k.  I’m amazed that we can afford it.  Now, with the savings from our mortgage I want to see if we can do additional savings for retirement.  Wouldn’t it be amazing to retire earlier then what we think?

Saving more for college.

We did the minimum for our kids 529 plans and now that we have the savings from our mortgage to add additional savings.

Photo Credit:  FreePixels.com

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2011 Savings Challenge

It is that time of year again. The end of the year. Besides holiday fun it is also the time to think about my budget for the upcoming year and think about how we did this past year.

How well did we do in 2011?

Since I didn’t get a chance to post about it.  My plan was simple.

My plan in 2011 was to live within our means.   However, we had a lot of challenges this year.

1. First we were blessed with identical twin boys this year!  Our family grew from 3 to 5 in just a couple months. This meant we had to make a tough decision on child care.  I decided to stay home with the kids. We went from 2 incomes to 1 in a short amount of time. I try to work part-time at home when I can.  That is a huge change of income.

For those Moms and Dads out there that have twins or multiples I give you so much credit!  This year has been crazy, insane and shocking.  There were times we had to eat out often, or get take out or just eat bad.   It was survival mode.  I’m so thankful that I had coupon knowledge behind me and I had a great stockpile.  It helped us so much to survive those first couple months.

2. Second, our well pump died in the spring and we had to have it replaced. Luckily we were only out of water for 1 day.  It was a holiday when it crocked and the company we called had no problem coming in and fixing it right away.  That was almost $3,000.  Thank goodness we have our emergency account.

3. Third, we had used savings to pay for car repairs.  This was about $500 and most of it was basic maintenance.

4.  We finished up the bathroom remodeling.  I will note that we had saved up for the remodeling.   This totals over $3000.

Before

The good news!

With the change in income, and the use of our savings from earlier in the year to pay for our savings project, we saved very little for other goals like we had in our 2010 Savings Challenge.

1. Continued to pay off credit cards and stay out of debt!

2. We maxed out on 401k yearly contributions.

3. We saved for college.   Note:  It doesn’t have to be a lot to save.  Our 529 plan minimum is $25 per month.

4. I have a wonderful spa bathroom that we all can enjoy!

After

Now we are going to sit down and start planning our goals for 2012.  How did you do in 2011?  What are your goals for 2012?

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2010 Savings Challenge Update – July 2010

 

How are you doing on your 2010 Financial goals?

Now that my toddler is a toddler I haven’t had the chance to write as much about this as I originally planned in the beginning of the year.   Before I lose track I wanted to quickly post our savings challenge and our update to it.

Check out the category from earlier posts this year.

Our goals that will take most of the year to complete:

1. Note a new situation: Switching our daughter into a different daycare.  We made the decision to switch her to a more expensive daycare that we felt fits our needs and she is so happy and learning so much.

Increase in childcare expenses.

2. Investing: It looks like we will reach about 50% of our goal this year.

3.  Save towards landscaping our front yard.  We need to get a couple estimates to figure out how much we need to save. We plan on doing some of it ourselves and having someone come and help too.

Similar to this post I haven’t had a chance to update  Gardening 2010 as much as I hoped.  The deer ate the square foot garden back in May and my plants are just recovering now.  At least I have some experience from this!

We are having some landscape lighting done later this year and we have planned and budgeted for it.

4.  Pay taxes or save taxes:  We got taxes back!  That has helped out a lot in our saving goals.

5. Save towards remodeling our master bathroom.  Our bathroom is fine for now but it needs some tile work and we’ve thought long and hard and realized that it needs a good makeover and we plan on getting some estimates.

We have enough now in our savings thanks to the taxes (goal 4) we got back and other savings that we can go for this goal this year thanks to cutting back on goal 2 and 3 above.  We just got our first estimate.  Now we have decisions to make.

Goals we are continuing to do successfully:

1.  Continue to pay off credit cards each month!

Of course. Note: Make sure you use your credit cards at least twice each year to avoid any non-usage fees and then PAY them off.  I’ve learned that some of my banks are including this fee now due to the changes of the laws. I have to check each of my cards and make a decision if we want to keep them all.

2.  Try to spend only $40 a week on groceries and try and spend less on eating out.

I want to stay on track and do meal planning each week.  It hasn’t gone as well as I hoped but we are trying.

3. Max out our retirement accounts.

Maxing out will be done this year but we aren’t going to look at saving in other options because of other goals in mind this year.  This one is being moved down.

4.  Continue to save each month into our daughter’s 529k plan.

Yes, this is continuing each month with the other goals we have we won’t be increasing it.

What are your goals for 2010? Have they changed during the course of the year?

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ING Direct Offering Specials on 7/1/10-7/2/10

I’m a huge fan of ING Direct.  It is simple to use and it is the best way to save automatically.  I’m a firm believer of paying your self first by automatically saving from each paycheck or per month.  Then I pay the rest of the bills with what I have. That way I can’t overspend.

In my email this week, I got a hint to a new sale ING Direct Financial Independence Days Sale that ING Direct is going to offer July 1-2.

Check out  Netbanker.com who wrote an article with more details about the sale.  Back in November last year they had a great Thanksgiving Sale that offered money after signing up for their FREE e-checking account.  Super easy to do and a great account to use as a debt account.

I love referring people to ING Direct and I get a little something in return when I do refer others as well as the new customer!  If you are interested in being referred especially during this event please email me with the email account you wish to sign up for to redberrydeals (at) gmail (dot) com and I will send you the referral link.

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2010 Savings Challenge Update – March 2010

How are you doing on your 2010 Financial goals?

Check out my post from earlier this year HERE.

Our goals that will take most of the year to complete:

1.  With the extra savings from our mortgage each month we are going take it and invest.   We will include stock that we were going to sell last year into this fund.  We have a goal and so far we have about 40% saved up!

Thanks to paying myself first each month, we expect this year to reach 47% to 54% of our goal.  I’m curious what we will reach!

2.  Save towards landscaping our front yard.  We need to get a couple estimates to figure out how much we need to save. We plan on doing some of it ourselves and having someone come and help too.

Thanks to looking at my savings I have a good amount to start off with already in this budget.  In March we bought a nice used tractor to help with our lawn, snow removal and other necessary things, of course for a great deal.  Thanks to Craig’s list.  I’ll write a post about that soon.  It’s great buying used.    Plus, we just sold our old riding lawn mower so that will help the the cost.  Soon to be more about that in my new posts about Gardening 2010.

3.  New goal: Pay taxes or save taxes

It is tax time season and I’ve just submitted my taxes to be done.  I might owe taxes or might get some back. We will see.

Goals we are continuing to do successfully:

1.  Continue to pay off credit cards each month!

Of course. Note: Make sure you use your credit cards at least twice each year to avoid any non-usage fees and then PAY them off.  I’ve learned that some of my banks are including this fee now due to the changes of the laws. 

2.  Try to spend only $40 a week on groceries and try and spend less on eating out.

We have been eating out a little bit but not as much as we used.  Thanks to coupons and finding yummy recipes online.  I want to stay on track and do meal planning each week.

3. Max out our retirement accounts and look at other options to save even more into retirement.

Again, thanks to paying myself first this will be done this year.

4.  Continue to save each month into our daughter’s 529k plan.

Yes, this is continuing each month, with the other goals we have we might increase the amount soon.

Goals that we will start to do this year.

8.  Save towards remodeling our master bathroom.  Our bathroom is fine for now but it needs some tile work and we’ve thought long and hard and realized that it needs a good makeover and we plan on getting some estimates.

We haven’t started this goal yet this year.

Keep Saving!

What are your goals for 2010?

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2010 Savings Challenge

I’m a huge fan of so many bloggers including Mrs. MoneySaver and Frugalfriends.wordpress.com.  It is so inspirational to read about each of their goals for 2010!

I’m so excited because if you read my earlier post from last year about our financial goals 2009 I’m excited to say that we’ve done everything on the list and then some!   We’ve done a lot and we continue to stay on track!

This is what we did in 2009!

1. Continue to pay our credit cards each month!

2. 6+ months of expenses for emergency fund

3. Increased each of our life insurance policies!

4. Got an umbrella policy.

5. I’m super excited to say that we maxed out on our retirement accounts!

6. We started a 529k for our daughter and family has even helped with some gifts.

7.  We refinanced our mortgage 2 months ago and lowered our mortgage payment by 9% per month!  That might not sound like a lot but for us that is a decent amount.  Of course that means we went back to a 30 year mortgage but I’m pleased with that.  Here is a great article from Ric Edelman — 10 reasons to Keep a Big – Large Mortgage.

8.  We are going to keep our extra stock and keep it until it rebounds a little bit more.  The advisor fees are too high to keep it after that. We are going to put this money towards our next savings goal.

9.  Get a home equity line of credit – Still looking into this option.  At this point we are comfortable with our current options.

10. Go on vacation!

Financial Goals 2010

Woohoo!  We only have our mortgage debt!  Not bad!    After a quick milkshake with the hubby we came up with these goals.

1.  Continue to pay off credit cards each month!

2.  Try to spend only $40 a week on groceries and try and spend less on eating out.

3. Max out our retirement accounts and look at other options to save even more into retirement.

4.  Continue to save each month into our daughter’s 529k plan.

5.  With the extra savings from our mortgage each month we are going take it and invest.   We will include stock that we were going to sell last year into this fund.  We have a goal and so far we have about 40% saved up!

6.  We went on vacation!  Woohoo!  Thanks to saving and being frugal at Christmas we went on vacation.  More about that soon.

7.  Save towards landscaping our front yard.  We need to get a couple estimates to figure out how much we need to save. We plan on doing some of it ourselves and having someone come and help too.

8.  Save towards remodeling our master bathroom.  Our bathroom is fine for now but it needs some tile work and we’ve thought long and hard and realized that it needs a good makeover and we plan on getting some estimates.

Keep Saving!

What are your goals for 2010?

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Free Download of David Bach’s New Book –

Click HERE to download David Bach’s New Book – Start Over, Finish Rich 10 Steps to Get You Back on Track in 2010 for FREE!  Today only – started 1/4/09  and will stop sometime today – 1/5/09!   Hurry!

From David Bach:

Now that is a great question! And the answer is I truly want to help millions of you make 2010 your best year ever. I know many of you may not be able to afford a book at this time and this was my best way to give back in 2010 and help as many of you as possible. We know that giving away this book five days after it is released is risky and may hurt book sales, but I’m willing to take the risk. I told my publisher, trust me, the more people we help in 2010, the better! I know many of you will still buy the book, love reading the paperback and enjoy the free bonuses we’re giving away (only when you purchase it.) But for those of you who can’t, here’s your chance to enjoy it today!

Thanks for being a part of my community and sharing Start Over, Finish Rich with those you love. And thank you again for reading my past books (and this one) and letting me be your trusted financial coach.

Happy New Year!

David Bach

Copyright © 2010 FinishRich Media 295 Greenwich St. Suite 529, New York, NY 10007

I like a lot of the financial writers and advisers like  Ric Edleman, Dave Ramsey,and David Bach.   They all have very sound advice and some of it I’ve accepted and used wisely and some I’ve listened to and made my own decisions.

David Bach was the first to introduce me to having a frugal mindset before I even knew who Dave Ramsey was!  David Bach introduced me to the “Latte Factor” – stop spending extra on things you could live without – “find out what investing your small savings can do for you.”   I strongly suggest you take a look at his books and learn more about how you can “Finish Rich.”

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How do you calculate your grocery or drugstore savings?

I’m curious, how do you calculate your grocery or drugstore savings?

  1. Do you calculate it based on regular retail prices?
  2. Do you calculate it based on sale prices?
  3. How do you calculate it using your reward points /bucks/ rewards?

I’ve been trying to figure this out for a while.  We save a lot each year on so many things!  We don’t ever buy toothpaste, razors, and other household products just because I can get it FREE or really cheap.   I know I’m saving a lot because of that but how much am I really saving per trip? What formula do you use?  I plan to find a couple formulas and post them here.

Source Img:  All You magazine