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groceries for a family of 4?

May 16th, 2016 at 02:27 pm

Just wondering what everyone spends on groceries for the week? We have a 5 year old, 1 year old, 1 cat (that we include all of her food, litter, etc.) and then two adults we're paying for. Just noticing recently that we haven't been hitting my $125/week budget for a while now so I'm probably going to up it to at least $150.

Generally we eat out Friday night, Saturday night, and get a takeout meal on Sunday (which aren't included in the above amounts), but other meals are at home. Just thought it'd be interesting to see what everyone else spends.

Private Swim Lessons for my 5 year old

May 13th, 2016 at 11:18 am

My 5 year old loves the water but up until now she's been using floaties or those puddle jumpers in the water and has someone swimming next to her to watch her. I'm thinking it's time to get her some real instruction and based on how tentative she is I'm thinking she'll get a lot more out of private lessons then the group ones they have. Does anyone have any experience with sending their kids for lessons? If I was a better swimmer I would teach her myself but I only know how to stay afloat and keep myself alive in the water and I'm sure she would benefit from learning something more than doggie paddle from her mama!

Supposedly the cost is $35 for half hour of instruction. I'm going to call around and see if anyone will do it for something more reasonable then that.

Credit card balance

May 11th, 2016 at 04:49 pm

So here's the deal...in order to get this house we ended up using a credit card. To acquire the house and then put on the new roof our balance soared to 17,350. Prior to buying this house we had no credit cards so it's been a real shock to say the least.

Since January we have paid the credit card down to 13,000 (approx. 500-100 per month plus the help of our tax refund). I'm hoping to have this down to 6,300 in January. The goal is to have it paid off in 2017 so we can look towards paying down the mortgages and doing some fix ups around the house.

it's a marathon and not a sprint..

May 11th, 2016 at 11:15 am

I haven't updated much because there's so much that has gone on and in some ways I felt like a failure because we were better off financially before then we are now.

Baby girl #2 was born April 2015. Things were moving along ok with maternity leave and then part-time work and then when I wasn't even back to work full-time we found a piece of crud house near my parents house in a fantastic school district and we decided to make the jump. We kept our first home and have made it into a rental but now we have the other rental that we co-own with my parents and now the new house's mortgage.

In many ways this house is a step down for us. Smaller, in need of a lot of renovation, etc. BUT it is in a fantastic school district and my mom will be able to help out a lot (instead of being forced to spend on before/after care). Where we were before we were forced to go the private school route plus the before/after care costs..it would've been outrageous to pay for two kids.

So here we are, more in debt between the mortgages and a 0% credit card that we used to secure this new house (and the new roof we were forced into doing to secure homeowners insurance).

But I have a PLAN! My spreadsheet is updated and we are putting 500-1000 per month on the 0% card. At one point it was 17,350 but we have it down to 13k now. Once the girly gets to kindergarten in the fall we will have a bit more money to play around with. We're making strides but it's a slow and steady pace instead of the big leaps we were making previously. Just gotta be patient...

Blogs about Investing in Rental Properties

December 8th, 2015 at 07:49 pm

Looks like we did it.

We've lived for years in a very cost effective area. Cheap housing (plus it's a very modest home) was great for us starting out. We had refinanced and there was only 9.5 years left on the mortgage. We were doing great except the school district was TERRIBLE. Many websites listed the rankings as 2 or 3 out of 10. Stabbings and fights were common occurances at the highschool. It was something we weren't willing to expose our girls to so we looked into private school.

Private school for one girl is doable. Not fun, but we could swing it no problem. But then our 2nd daughter came along and I ran the numbers and it just wasn't making sense anymore. So now we moved to a very high cost of living area but the school district is fantastic (it's where I grew up) and my mother is two miles down the road so I won't even have to pay for before/after care. We moved to an even more modest home to try and keep the cost down while now renting out our first home. We also half own a rental property with my parents. So now we've got two rental properties to stay on top of. Just wondering if anyone knows of any blogs that talk about investing in rental properties. I follow AffordAnything but I figured some people on this site might now of a few others that would be interesting to read.

Thanks in advance!! Smile

Checking in after baby :)

July 29th, 2015 at 04:42 pm

So we finally picked a name. We kept with the Italian theme and named this little one Lucia. Smile She is a little sweetheart. Happy as can be and sleeping at night so this mama can't complain! 3 months old now..it goes way too fast.

Financially we are doing okay. On track to pay off the 0% card we got for the windows by April. Things will start going better once I'm back full-time but for now I'm starting part-time and trying to tread water until then.

Tax Question: 2 Children - FSA AND Child Care Credit?

November 14th, 2014 at 06:31 pm

I have a dependent flexible savings account through work. I'm allowed a total of 5,000. If I am able to cover childcare expenses for 1 child with that 5,000 dollars am I then allowed to put in for the child care credit for the other child when tax time rolls around?

I'm currently pregnant with my 2nd child so I'm trying to hash everything out before baby comes. Thanks in advance! Smile

Over 100K in Retirement!

November 6th, 2014 at 07:25 pm

We've probably been over 100,000 for months now but my work doesn't give me their totals until the year is up so I'm going off what they told me last year + my portion of the pension investment, husbands 401k, and deferred comp. Woohoo! It's a pretty exciting milestone. Smile



Perpetual Debt Pay-er Off-er

October 23rd, 2014 at 06:08 pm

So I think I've got a problem. The second we get out from under paying off debts I always find a way to get right back in. I told myself it'd be different this time. We paid off the rest of the addition and we were home free. Then we wanted to get the windows done in our house since we still have the original 50's single pane metal ones. Great, no problem, we'll just cash flow it and do a couple at a time. A couple months later and I now have a home depot 0% interest card and a houseful of windows that will be replaced in the next 3 or so weeks. Yipes. Will I ever learn??

We've got enough money to cover new baby expenses but it'll be cutting it close to pay off the windows in full before I'm due. We've got 2 years 0% interest but obviously I'd like it paid off as fast as possible. We'll have to see..

Checking in & diet :(

August 7th, 2014 at 02:31 pm

T wants to go to go to Home Depot this weekend and set up an estimate for getting the windows replaced on our first floor. He's telling me it may take them 4 weeks to get the windows made and delivered so we should probably get on that if we want them in by the end of September before it gets cold. Meanwhile I'm wondering when the first payment will be due. We have some cash on hand now but won't have the total amount until the end of September.

I'm hoping he gets his car in tomorrow for repairs. I'm planning on riding my bike tomorrow while he takes my car to work. It's a little nerve racking being on the road with cars but I'm getting more used to it.

In some side news, I really need to start a diet. I feel like I've lost all self control in the food department. Anyone with me? Smile

Electric Bicycle?!

July 28th, 2014 at 01:04 pm

Found an electric bike for sale on craigslist for $350. I live a little over 2 miles from my work and in passed years I’ve tried biking to work but I could never stick with it since there is this one massive hill that I need to walk up. I’ve wanted an electric bike (the motor assists you on hills when you use the throttle) for a while now but could never justify it since we were still digging out of debt. Since we now have a 2k buffer (nowhere near a real EF but I’m working on it) and no non-mortgage debt, T said I should get this for myself. He’s thinking he might be able to complete some of the car repairs himself which would save us money on that upcoming expense.

I’m hoping to use the electric bike 3 days a week to commute to work (and pick G up from daycare once I attach my “trailgator” bike attachment). The sitters house is only 1mile past my house (3mi from work) and on that trip I shouldn’t have to use the electric motor at all since all those hills are easy to climb. I’m hoping this will lessen my dependence on a car. I still will obviously need the car for bad weather and on the days she goes to my mom’s house (35mile distance cannot be done on a bike!) but overall I think this is a healthy lifestyle change that might end up saving us some money on gas to boot!

Flexible Savings Account for Childcare?

July 22nd, 2014 at 04:00 pm

I've never used an FSA before and I was wondering if anyone out there has? Supposedly my employer will take the money out pretax and I submit a form each time I get a receipt from my daycare provider and I will be reimbursed. I've used an online calculator and it looks like this is better than the childcare tax credit of 600 for the year that I was previously getting. Looks like this works out to an additional 1200 for the year? Sounds great, keep your fingers crossed it's as easy as they're making it out to be!

Debt Free! :)

July 21st, 2014 at 11:40 am

We are debt free (aside from mortgages) as of Friday! My mom hasn't cashed the check yet but she told me she was planning on doing it today.

T estimates all the repairs to the cars we've been putting off to cost about ~1500 total. I'm hoping that's on the high end but I've budgeted for the total amount.

Next up after that is saving for oil for winter and then hopefully getting the replacement windows for the downstairs of our house before the cold sets in (late Sept?). I want to pay for it with cash and I'm hoping I can get the 6 downstairs windows done for less than 2,750 but I need to start calling around for estimates soon.

So happy to start this new part of the journey and be debt free. Only our mortgages (home and rental property) left!

Debt Free in 7 Days! :)

July 11th, 2014 at 11:21 am

Need to get everything wrapped up today since I'm off next week on a family vacation! Next friday is payday and I've already written out the check for my mom to cash so that we are DEBT FREE (aside from mortgages)!

SO exciting. I've been counting this down for the last 2 years! We were briefly debt free two years ago after paying off the student loans, car loans, credit cards, etc. but then I got it in my head that we needed a half bathroom on our main floor. We ended up getting the bathroom/laundry room addition but the amount I had estimated in my head was WAY off. To add approx 100SF addition to our house was 17k (18k including materials we bought). We had some cash on hand but we ended up borrowing from my mom again. In 7 days it is all paid off Smile! I think it was an outrageous price but it has made our house so much more livable. It was much easier to potty train our girly and its nice not having to send guests (some of them elderly family) up the stairs every time they needed to use a restroom. Plus having laundry within steps of the kitchen/family room has been a nice change.

I want things to stick this time. We've got to play catch up on some car issues and other things we've neglected since throwing it all at the debt, but I want to make sure other house repairs are done with CASH and that we build up a tiny emergency fund. This website has been awesome with keeping me accountable. I don't post often but I'm always here checking in and reading up on everyone else's progress which I think helps!

double dip chase freedom?

June 10th, 2014 at 02:21 pm

Just wondering if anyone has ever double dipped on the chase freedom (spend 500, get 200 back) credit card. I believe my husband and I were both on the account back 2-3 years ago when we did it. I just filled it out for him today online and I'm wondering if its possible we get the same deal again?? I figured if anyone would know, it would be someone here! Smile

Almost caught up

May 21st, 2014 at 06:51 pm

3,500 remaining to my mother, then create a real emergency fund, and then what?!

It's exciting to think that soon the 1,500 extra a month (after all bills and expenses are paid) might actually be going to something else besides debt.

I'm thinking mortgage or rental property or maybe up the 529 contributions?? The sky is the limit! Smile

Almost debt free (not including mortgages)

February 6th, 2014 at 03:12 pm

So we've been chasing debt freedom now for years. First paid off the credit cards, then the student loans, saved up for maternity leave, then more credit cards once we put a small addition on our house, and now finally we only have a loan left to my mother. She insists she does not need the money and that we should play catch up on all the house repairs and wants we've neglected the past few years and pay her back later. It feels weird being able to spend money on the house or even ourselves. We've worked so long to budget and pay things down I thought being able to spend would be more enjoyable than this!

still plugging away

October 4th, 2013 at 01:59 pm

So many money problems lately! I absolutely hate that when we had a nice savings, we NEVER needed it and now that the cushion is low there's all these issues coming up one after the other.

We should be all caught up by January, and then my mom should be paid back by April. Until something else goes wrong and I make the next post in a few months giving a new time table haha. And so it goes..

still plugging away

May 15th, 2013 at 04:19 pm

We had two major setbacks in the last few months.

Problem#1 My husbands commuter car had the engine seize up in the middle of the interstate. 3k spent to replace it.

Problem #2 My husbands "new" commuter car ran into a car on a rainy day at a stoplight. Hardly any damage to the guys car but it totalled the "new" car. 2k spent to replace it.

So there's 5k not anticipated spending in the last 3 months. Oh and then there was the $800 to replace the fuel pump and do a tune up on my car. So nearly 6k...

The first incident I was stressed and bothered. By the 2nd and then my car I've learned nothing is ever going to go as planned. I've had my spreadsheet of life for years and it's finally dawned on me that it's great to set a goal, but there's always going to be a few road blocks in the way.

Life lessons, I suppose..

So we are getting there, little by little. Addition will be paid at the end of July (instead of the end of march). Florida trip will be paid in cash and then we can start to amass our savings again.

"new" car. bummer.

March 1st, 2013 at 03:29 pm

So T's motor seized in the middle of the interstate 2 weeks ago. Pair that with the already damaged trunk/bumper from the guy who had hit him 3 months earlier with NO insurance, and there was no way in heck it was worth repairing. Prior to the damange/motor seizing it was worth 2k tops.

So we went out to find another commuter car. $2900 dollars later we found a 4 door honda civic with 105,000 miles on it. It seems like a good car and T knows a lot about these cars so he'll be able to do most work and all maintenance himself. With the miles T puts on vehicles commuting to work we hope to get 3 years out of it before searching for the next car.

So yeah, two steps forward three steps back. We paid cash for the car but now addition payoff has been slowed down to end of May. Frown

Age difference between siblings

February 5th, 2013 at 07:45 pm

G is 2 years and 4 months. I'm 28 and T is 30.

What age difference is between your children? (or you and your siblings?) I know there is no *right* answer, just wondering about other's thoughts.

We were waiting concerning trying for another kid until our debts were paid. So maybe August 2013? Assuming it takes 6 months, G could end up being almost 4 years older than her sibling.

I've never had an issue with this since my brother and I are 6 years apart and I feel reasonably close to him. We don't talk all the time but we're there for each other when we need it. T on the other hand is only 16 months apart from his sister and in the last 13 years I've known him they've never been close. I think it's more personality than age difference but who knows.

Something to mull over at least..

12 more years!

February 4th, 2013 at 03:36 pm

This month marks the 3rd full year with our 15-year mortgage. That means there's only 12 to go! There's moments where I wish we had stuck with the 30-year option, but luckily we have a decent income between the two of us that we were able to go with the speedier option.

What this means for our family: our lives won't be spent as a slave to a lender. G will have recently turned 14 when our loan is paid off. Because of cut-off dates, she'll most likely be in 8th grade. That leaves 4.5 years of extra boost to her college fund (we've already started contributing to a 529, but I'm sure we'll need more.)

Plus even if I were to get pregnant this second and have a child in 9 months (very happily still on the pill so that shouldn't be the case :P) our 2nd kid would be at the most 11 years old when the house is paid off. How neat is that?!

I'm excited to teach my child(ren) about the benefits of being money concious early on in life and hopefully they will learn from our mistakes but also from what we've done right.

Retirement/Investments by age 30? & other financial ramblings

February 1st, 2013 at 01:40 pm

Retirement accounts at age 30:

So Ive heard the rule of thumb (yes I know you need to be careful with rules of thumb but I figure its a good baseline for right now until we know more about our needs in retirement) is that you should have a years worth of salary in retirement accounts by the time youre 30. T is already 30 and Im coming up on 29 in 4 months so I figured it was about time I evaluate things.

Turns out I cant access one of his 401k account right now. Weve been locked out so now T needs to call. A year or two ago the account was at 21k. If I assume no growth since then (which hopefully with all his contributions it should be at least a couple thousand) we have approx. 50k in investments. Our income is over 100k.

Honestly I thought we were doing better. But we are still fairly young and considering we only have 12 years left on our mortgage (and 20 on our investment property) things could be worse. The investment property is half in my name, half in my mothers. Once my brother gets settled she has always hoped to put him as a partial owner as well. If I sell half of my half to him the payments will be low enough that we will no longer need to rent the place out and instead we could all use it as a vacation home (its a condo on a lake and would be an ideal family summer house). Of course I cant count on him being interested and Im not sure of his money situation so that situation is very much in limbo right now. In the meantime we continue to rent the condo out.

As far as the mortgage is concerned we only have 12 years left. Right now we have 1,000 each month that we put towards debt. Over the past 4 years weve paid off credit cards, cars, student loans, etc., etc. The mudroom/1st floor bathroom addition really set us back last year. An estimated 8-10k cost ended up becoming 18k when all was said and done. Much of it was paid with cash. The rest was put on a 0% interest credit card and a 5k mom loan. The credit card will be paid off March 29th. Mom loan by August 2nd. At that point we will have 1,000 a month to do with as we please. I am planning on saving for maternity leave for a 2nd child. Then 300 or so of that 1,000 will need to go towards daycare. Thatll leave us with 700 a month.

What would you do with $700 a month?

Im thinking of building a small emergency fund and then will start putting 300 to mortgage and the rest 400 to savings (for future cars, house maintenance, etc.) each month. Sorry for the scattered, rambling post. I really needed a monetary brain dump to lay all this out on the table and there it is. For now.

2013 Goals

November 27th, 2012 at 07:51 pm

Ok so 2012 went a little wacky. The half bath/LR was WAY more than anticipated (~17k total) so after paying off our student loans there was no way we could hit any of the other goals. But here we are almost to 2013 and I'm giving it a go at creating some new financial goals...

Pay off addition
3,300 loan
6,000 mom loan

Save 2,000 for vacation

There will be more but that's a decent start..back to work.


NJ Wedding : How much cash to give?

October 5th, 2012 at 02:23 pm

Ok, so my husband and I were married roughly 6 years ago. I remember people giving around 50-75 cash a person. I know it sounds tacky to want to figure out the exact amount to give to my cousin and his fiance, but I don't want to appear stingy. It should be based on what we can afford and our relationship with these people, but somehow it ends up being different than that.

The venue is a swanky place in Jersey, and my husband, 2 year old daughter and I will be attending the reception. What sounds like a reasonable amount to give?

A friend of mine suggested $300, but I was thinking more in the 150 range. Should I count my daughter as a 3rd person (not sure if she is getting her own meal or not) and make it 225? I've asked my mom but she keeps saying 100 is enough for all of us and I don't agree. I'm so bad at these things -- help!!

Ack - haven't been around in a while!

June 28th, 2012 at 12:09 am

A lot has been going on! We got back from a trip to Tennessee on Sunday which was FUN. We went with the whole family and stayed at a cabin in the great smoky mountains. We went to Dollywood and walked on some fun trails and did lots of G-friendly activities. She loved the aquarium, so we're definitely going to have to find some others in the area to go to.

Anyway, I finished reading The Happiness Project book and I'm trying to be more proactive in my life to bolster my own happiness.

One silly goal is to try and create my own blog. I want to relearn coding and styling and how it all works so I bought the following domain:

spreadsheetoflife.net

I just started playing around with themes and content, but it's fun to have something new to play around with in the evenings when G goes to bed!

On the finance front - we have a contractor coming to look into the first floor bathroom addition. We have a few loved ones who have a hard time going upstairs to use our only bathroom in the house. I figure for their sake, the ease of potty training G, and bolstering our home value it would make sense to go through with it. We'll see how much the contractor quotes us tomorrow..

Stackable washer/dryer for short momma???

March 6th, 2012 at 05:01 pm

So my husband and I are thinking about getting stackable washer/dryer for our mudroom addition. Problem is if we keep the same footprint of our existing patio, once we add the half bath we probably won't have enough room to keep the washer/dryer side by side.

Anyone have theirs stacked? I am only 5' tall so I'm wondering how much of a hassle this is going to be. I can always get a fold away step stool. I'll need to see if I can reach at my next Home Depot visit.

Onto the next thing..

March 6th, 2012 at 03:17 pm

So last post was about how we are done with debt. Now that we've tackled that task, we are set to catch up on some maintenance/repairs that we've been putting off.

$250 for the transmission fluid to be changed in my car, $700 to finish the ceiling in our master bedroom, possibly $1250 to fix the AC in my car (we'll put that off until it gets a bit warmer out -- I hope that's an overestimate!) and a few other more minor issues to get caught up on. Then it's time to save for the half bath/mudroom addition!

I need to check out angieslist to see who in our area is reputable and then set up some estimates. Woohoo!

A new chapter

March 2nd, 2012 at 05:42 pm

I'm on lunch now at work, so I figured i'd take a moment or two to reflect on what it now feels like to be (non-mortgage) debt free.

It might sound silly but this is one of the greatest accomplishments in my life so far. And yet I still can't really grasp what we've done so I'll break it down.

In 2006 we were engaged. Months later we had a home. Months later we financed two cars. Months after that we bought half my parents rental property from them and mortgaged that. Within 2 years of our engagement we were in debt up to our eyeballs.

In 2008 I realized something had to give. We made too much money to have this problem. And yet there we sat with almost 6k in credit card debt, 2 car loans, student loans totalling almost 30k, etc, etc, etc.

I was fed up and I created the spreadsheet of life. And so this crazy ocd guppy was born. Smile

On top of paying all the many debts back we also took time out to save for maternity leave (I was able to spend 6 months pretending I was a SAHM - priceless). Luckily we have free gramma daycare and reasonable real daycare which helps A LOT. When not factoring in daycare I don't really see how people say kids are so expensive. So far we've been able to absorb all costs between our dining out/weekend spending and grocery budget. This will become more difficult to do as G gets older. In the area we live she would need to go to private school but I think we can manage that just fine. And then there's the decision on if or when we want more children. But I'm getting way off topic now. Smile

Anyway, we did it. Almost 4 years in the making but we're finally here. So much effort but nothing except big 0'ed out balances to show for it. I wish someone would send me a certificate or something haha. Oh well, now onto the next goal. Smile

NO MORE DEBT!!!! :D

March 2nd, 2012 at 12:19 pm

So paychecks hit checking today and I was able to make my transfer to pay off the student loan!! All non mortgage debt is GONE! I am insanely excited; this moment has been almost 4 years in the making but we are finally here. SO worth it.

I will gush later on this milestone but right now I am really sick (ugh babies and their germs! :P) and need to get working for the big meeting later today.


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