May and June 2011 Financial Goals Update

I set new financial goals at the beginning of 2011, and I will be updating our progress every month. Here is our May/June wrap-up:

Husband starts a teaching and/or research job by September. He is working in a lab position full-time now that has the potential to turn into a post-doc.  He needs to make sure to defend his dissertation in the next few months, however, and progress on that front has been painfully slow due to other people on his committee. (I don’t have much control over this one, but I plan to help support him so he can do what he needs to do to finish his Ph.D. and find a job.)

I will bring in at least $6,000 to the family budget. I plan to do this through writing jobs, advertising across my three blogs and perhaps writing an e-book. I have now brought in $2,314.57 this year, which makes this goal 38.5% complete.  I am confident this goal will be met by the end of the year.

Sell $1,500 worth of “stuff” around the house. We plan to do this by continually decluttering. We will have a garage sale this spring, and I will be selling baby items and outgrown kids’ clothes on eBay and Craig’s List. We have now sold $526.99 worth of our stuff, making this goal 35% complete.  We are still trying to figure out when to have the garage sale.

Keep our emergency fund above $12,000. Our emergency fund is now at $12,442.09.  However, all is not well with our finances.  I will have some residual credit card debt after I finish liquidating my eBay business, and we have had a few personal expenses crop up and have used the credit card rather than dipping our emergency fund below $12,000.  My husband and I are planning a financial meeting to discuss how we will pay off these debts on our very limited income.  I’ll report back when I know what the plan is.

Spend no more than an average of $50 a week on groceries. I no longer think this one is possible.  With the rising price of groceries and our intolerances to dairy and my intolerance to soy, I am more typically spending $100 a week.

Spend no more than $25 a week going out to eat. This fall we started going out to eat too frequently. We are committing ourselves to only going out once a week and to spending no more than $25 a week on average. I will report our progress over at my Dining Out Challenge blog. This one has become easier because I am finding it very difficult to eat out with both a soy and dairy intolerance.

Spend less than $400 on all gifts this year. This amount will include my three kids’ birthdays, my mom’s birthday, Mother’s Day (for my mom), Father’s Day, and Christmas. My son had a birthday in June, and I spent $16.34.  You can see what I got at this post.  I have now spent $71.34 on gifts.  I still have $328.66 for the rest of the year.

Close my eBay business. Now that we have three kids, we no longer have room for mountains of tubs of clothes to sell on eBay. I am finding it difficult to split my time between my eBay store and my blogs. I enjoy writing and would like to continue with the blogs. It seems logical, then, to close the eBay store. This won’t be a quick process though; I have 2,000 eBay items to sell (down from a high of 3,000 before my daughter was born in April) and debt I have to pay off from my poor business planning.  Thankfully, this one is almost complete.  I officially shut down my store on June 30th, and I am selling all of my remaining inventory to Once Upon a Child.  I am not making alot from them, but I am just so grateful to have a place to get rid of all of my inventory.  I am about 75% done liquidating my business.  It will be complete by next month.

Monthly Financial Goals Update

I have always dreamed of being a stay-at-home mom, and now, with our third child due in April and our decision that I will quit my job even though my husband won’t graduate this year, we are trying to get “gazelle intense” as Dave Ramsey says and make the most of my income. Here are our goals for the remaining few months until the baby is born and our progress:

Save 5 months’ of living expenses. After I quit and my husband takes over as the breadwinner, our income will drop by about 1/3. However, before that happens, we would first have to live off of his assistantship & part time work. I would like a cushion to help us deal with that. Thus far we have saved 49%, which is approximately 2.5 months of living expenses. (I am afraid that we may need to dip into this a bit at the end of the month; I just found out we will owe more for his fees for the semester than I had anticipated.)

Have 2 no spending months. Just based on my salary and our expenses, I do not have enough extra income to save 5 months’ of living expenses. One of the ways we plan to get around this problem is by having several no spending months and putting the difference away. This not happened yet. However, we have had a grocery spending limit one month and this month we are having a needs only month and a pantry challenge.

Pay off 50% of my business debt. Yes, I opened my business 4 years ago before I had every heard of Dave Ramsey. In the first two years, I accumulated quite a bit of debt. I want to pay off 50% (or more, if I can) of that debt. Then when I quit my job, we can use some of my eBay income to live off of instead of to repaying debt. Unfortunately we made very little progress on this this month. E-bay pulled all of my listings because I didn’t have a return policy and I just got them all back up. Without the bulk of my inventory listed, I made very little money. Unfortunately, I have actually lost progress and am now at only 5% paid off. Hopefully sales will start to increase in the coming month.

Sell at least $500 worth of extra household items on eBay. In December I sold $108,(in addition to the $202 I sold in September – November) so I have sold a total of $310, making this goal 62% complete.

I’ll report back every month and let you know how we are doing!

Joining the Pantry Challenge

I was excited to see that for January, Crystal at Money Saving Mom and Jessica at Life as Mom are having a pantry challenge. I defrosted my freezer a week ago in preparation for the ¼ cow that we are purchasing, and I discovered several freezer meals that I had prepared back in August before I went back to work. I also discovered that we had much more meat on hand that I remembered. So, this Pantry Challenge comes at a perfect time. Paired with my January wants vs. needs challenge, I am hoping we can save quite a bit of money.

We normally spend about $300 a month on groceries. My goal for this month will be to spend no more than $175. We will still be purchasing milk, eggs, cheese, and produce.

Last January there was a massive sale on diapers at Jewel; if that happens again this year, I anticipate spending quite a bit of our $175 on stocking up on diapers for our daughter and our new daughter who will be born in April.

As going out to eat is definitely a want and not a need, I anticipate all of our meals will be eaten at home.

January Challenge–Needs Vs. Wants

In the week before Christmas, Suze Orman was talking about rationalizing spending money and justifying purchases. A mom works hard at her job, comes home with little energy and thinks, “I’ve worked hard all day; I deserve to go out to eat.” (You could insert me here; going out to eat is my weakness.)

She then was urging viewers to seriously ask themselves before each purchase, “Is this a want or a need?”

My husband and I are not big spenders. We don’t buy many large purchases. I think our last big expenditure was the dishwasher we purchased last April. What we do though, is fritter away our money little by little. He thinks of eating out as a treat, so he likes to spend big when he does go out. I like to go out to eat frequently, but I am willing to purchase a cheaper menu item. When you merge our eating out pattern, you can see that we go out to eat frequently, and we spend a lot of money doing so.

I wanted to have two no spending months before the end of April, but for January, instead of a no spending month, I am going to ask myself before every purchase, “Is this a need or a want?” If it is a want, I am going to try not to make the purchase. My guess is that this line of thought will be just as effective, if not more so, than a no spending month.

I’ll keep you posted on my progress.

Monthly Goals Update–October Wrap Up

I am now back to work full-time and expect to keep my job until at least April. These are the new goals I am working on to help my dream of being a stay-at-home mom a reality.

Save 5 months’ of living expenses. I get nervous when there isn’t any money in the bank. If I am able to quit and my husband takes over as the breadwinner, our income will drop by about 1/3. I would like a cushion to help us deal with that. Thus far we have saved 18%, which is approximately 3.5 weeks of living expenses.

Have 2 no spending months. Just based on my salary and our expenses, I do not have enough extra income to save 5 months’ of living expenses. One of the ways we plan to get around this problem is by having several no spending months and putting the difference away. This not happened yet. However, we are having a grocery challenge this month, which is helping to curb our spending (and use up some of our grocery stockpile!)

Pay off 50% of my business debt. Yes, I opened my business 4 years ago before I had every heard of Dave Ramsey. In the first two years, I accumulated quite a bit of debt. I want to pay off 50% (or more, if I can) of that debt. Then when I quit my job, we can use some of my eBay income to live off of instead of to repaying debt. Thus far I have paid off 9.3%.

Sell at least $500 worth of extra household items on eBay. In October I sold another $88,(in addition to the $78 I sold in September) so I have sold a total of $166, making this goal 33% complete.

I’ll report back every month and let you know how we are doing!