This week, I have been working on organizing paper after realizing (to my sheer horror) that I forgot to pay a bill on the 15th. Grr…
So I have been putting our financial house in order with Mint.com. For those of you unfamiliar with this free webservice, it is owned by Intuit, the company that owns Turbo Tax (my filing software for the last… oh forever, but there are other great free options if you need them – just ask) and Quicken. I am a slightly disgruntled former Quicken user because Quicken went away when Intuit bought Mint. But, Mint works.
But it’s not Quicken It works just fine. It even works with my Po-dunk little bank and brings all our accounts under one roof. Student Loans included. Setting all that up was my 20 minutes this morning. By twenty minutes, I mean an hour because I had forgotten all my logins and had to call to get them reset. Fun. Times. (Question: How do you track fifty different logins and passwords? I try to keep them mostly the same but it’s just not always possible. Leave me a tip in the comments? PLEASE?)
Features of Mint include income and expense tracking, automatic updating of accounts when you log in and, of course, budgeting and goal-setting and tracking features. I’m sorry to tell you that you’ll get an e-mail when you exceed your budget. That being said, round up for your loan payments when you enter the budgeted amounts or Mint will round down and every single month you’ll be over budget. It’s kind of annoying, but the work around is simple. I just explained it.
Consolidating all our accounts in one place makes it easier to get a snapshot of our current situation. Good thing. I set up a goal for an emergency fund, a travel fund and our plan to pay cash for a house. It even has a Debt Snowball Feature! Look under Goals and select consolidate loans and/or consolidate credit cards as appropriate. Thankfully, we don’t use credit cards so we don’t have that to worry about. Just student loans. Lots and lots of student loans.
So as it sits right now, I have organized our money so that DH and I can sit down and have a little chat about where we are, where we want to go and what we’re willing to do to get there. Do you do that? How often? Are you on track? We’re moving the right way, but I’d like to be moving a little faster. I feel really strange having done this cleanup. Light in some ways, heavy in others. Honest here? Every time I think about my student loans, I feel a little nauseated. All that money and for what? Now, to claroify, I don’t regret my education but I sure wish I wouldn’t have had to take on all that debt to finance it – especially the masters which I haven’t exactly leveraged since I got it. I love learning, but dayum that cost a lot of money.
Is your financial house in order? Did you ever have an awakening about your money? How’d it go? I’ll keep you posted on our progress.
One more question: What’s a reasonable grocery budget for a family of six? I am thinking about trying to keep it under my hubby’s BAS. Am I nuts?
I have no excuse for not blogging yesterday so I am sorry. I owe you updates on a few things.
20 Minute Decluttering: I mastered my craft room. It took a lot more than 20 minutes and it still looks kind of junky because of my set up and it’s location. My creative space is in an unfinished basement adjacent to the boys’ play areas. In fact, it is centered between them. This can be… complicating.
So, without further ado, here are some after pictures of Saturday’s work:
This area is a cutting table, the bags underneath are fabric pieces as are the four totes at the end of my bookcase. See what I mean about it still looking kind of dumpy despite being mostly orderly? My sewing machine is in the rolling case underneath the table.
This piece I hope will be next week’s make it Monday. I have great plans for this $10 coffee table. In the background is my major work station. More on that soon. The bookcase is cluttered, I know, with my professional library, my crafting books and my cricut cartridges. I will be moving some cartridges to the Jukebox which will help but I need to be honest with myself about the pro gear. Soon. It’s just too soon.
This is a better view of the main work area. It is big enough for two to make cards or scrapbook pages and whatnot. The Cricut, Sizzix and laminator are readily available as are the Xyron machines. As an aside, I think the Xyron machine is the greatest invention ever. It spoils me for other adhesives.
My desk. Ready and waiting for rubber stamping. On the baker’s rack in the background are scrapbooks to be filled, WIP projects, 12×12 paper and foam. On top are Sizzix dies.
This represents the bulk of my miscellaneous storage. The tall dresser even has the drawers labeled. The shorter, wider dresser is full of randomness: bubble wrap, stuff I am still learning how to use, crayons, wrapping paper… It’s kind of scary, but I know what’s there and where to find it. Extra Xyron cartridges are in the third drawer. Ink pads in the rack on the top and the two boxes are ribbon. I went back down to pick the paper pad up off the floor. (MY KIDS!)
The remaining storage area. Four totes on the end are fabric, on the near end is paper, embellishments, knitting magazines and a handful of in-progress scrapbooks. Do I like how it looks? Not really, but having it organized allows me to get some of that stuff used up.
So let me ask you a question. As you can see, we have an unfinished basement. We could certainly finish it with paneling or sheetrock, but it would be at our expense and, since we live in military housing, the ROI is negative by the cost to finish it. So what can I do? What would you do? Leave me a comment and share your thoughts and we can come back to it on Friday, okay?
Next up, the Make it Monday update. I did tweet it last night, but if you don’t follow me on twitter, you’ll feel cheated that you didn’t get it. I did finish a knitting project. After lamenting that it takes me SO LONG to get one done, I now will admit that I just don’t spend enough time on it. I will knit a few row and put it down when my ADD kicks in
and I want to play video games. So this project, that would take a serious knitter an afternoon, took me a couple weeks. It is knitted in garter stitch, seamed and gathered. I enhanced the pattern by knitting a band to cover the cinched part, not wrapping yarn. I didn’t like the look of it. Using yarn and needles I had so it fits into my stash busting goals as well. Also, the model is adorable, right?
I also want to thank the lovely Sarah for delighting me with one of her projects this week. Her blog is showing tremendous potential because her Pinterest addiction is worse than my own. Look at what she sent me!
So once again, loyal readers, what should I do about my basement walls? Would you take on the paneling or drywall costs yourself? Another option I thought of was to get bedsheets at goodwill and just cover the walls. It would be random, yes, but with a bit of fabric paint and a stamp or stencil, kind of funky? HELP!
I’ve been obsessed with my blog traffic lately. It’s wrong. I know. But this is what I have learned about my readership.
2. You trust my opinion on certain things. Smart people you are. BTW, still using Relish! more than E-Mealz.
3. You hate my memes and polls. Bummer. I sort of love both of these things.
4. Are you liking the cooking tips?
Updates on other stuff: 20 Minute Challenge is mostly going well. No major progress to celebrate but the areas that have been done are staying done which is great. I am working on getting the kids to pick up after themselves without being a total bitch all the time.
Healthy: Better. I have made some progress dealing with difficult issues in my life and continue to do so. I know if I plan and track my eating on Spark People, I have a better caloric intake day. My dogs, pains that they are, would not stop whining until I walked them today. So I did. Me in my winter battle rattle, Bucky in his, using my new no-pull harnesses (meh) and the split lead so I can take both dogs on one leash. It’s -6 degrees here today. MINUS 6. We walked two miles. Three hours later and my thighs are still frozen. Bucky is sunning himself by the back door. Maddie is also napping. Win.
Now I have to get help writing a STRONGLY WORDED letter that I’ve been putting off since last summer. Or hiring a lawyer.
Dear Blog Readers,
They’re ganging up on me. The children. My nemesis and his adorable little friend (pictured above). Even Mother Nature is giving me the finger. This morning I awakened at 4:00 for a drink of water. I went to the kitchen to discover that either the above dog has gotten incredibly intelligent or one of my children went on a midnight snack run and left the refrigerator door open. In the refrigerator was a pound of beef liver that I had boiled but not yet cut up for training purposes. The key word at this point is was. I found an empty plate (otherwise undisturbed from its resting place – she’s that good) and was met by a very unrepentant dog.
This morning, I discovered half of my favorite pair of shoes destroyed. One hates rugs, the other hates yarn. Maddie cannot stand area rugs to the point that any efforts to stem the flow of snow into my house are met by her bunching up said rug and moving it out of the doorway. Bucky will grab my current knitting project and attempt to carry it away. He doesn’t care about other projects, just the one I am working on now. The vet said he was four or five. I think the vet is
full of shit mistaken because of all the “puppy behaviors” he displays – chewing, etc. Shoes, legos and K-nex are not. safe. And he knows nothing. Not sit, not stay, not off. But he has a personality that makes it hard to stay mad at him.
Then we will add the weather. This week I have spent roughly $100 on equipment for wearing these two naughty little hounds out. I bought my first pair of snowboots in a very long time, a split lead so I can take them both on one leash, a backpack for Bucky so we burn more energy on our walks. (I’m reading a dog training book that recommends it for all medium and large sized dogs). Gloves, warm gloves. I am ready for anything! But this shit is ridiculous. So, of course, they’re whining to go outside every ten minutes. This process requires me to put on my full winter battle rattle which takes five minutes and then they only want to be outside two minutes because they’re too cold to do all their business. We come back in, they warm up, I take off my battle rattle and repeat.
It’s going to be a long day.
Send cocoa. With schnapps.