Dead Car

My primary commuter car died the other day.  The engine is blown.  Thankfully, I work from home, but I will admit to being discouraged.  It seems that one setback after another is hitting us lately.

For now, we’re juggling the family car.  I’m not tempted to go and finance a new or newish car, so we’ll have to deal with the one car until we have enough money to purchase a somewhat decent used car.

Anyway, the car started to die as I was listening to Dave Ramsey’s Podcast on the way to a client.  I thought that was ironic.

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One Step Back…

…but we move forward.

Working from home yesterday afternoon, wrapping up for the day, when my wife came into my office explaining that we had to go to the ER.

My son split his forehead open while jumping around our van.  ER visits aren’t new for us.  This isn’t our first rodeo.  After all, we have three boys who are as active and rambunctious as I am.

23 stitches later (we went with the on-call Plastic Surgeon), 5 hours later, we were home and exhausted.  Thankfully, my son will be fine.  It does means no more swimming the rest of the month, which hurts him more than the cut.

We have medical insurance, but knowing how this works, they’ll pay as little as possible, and dump the rest on us (it seems that my out-of-pocket expenses increase each year, as the insurance coverage decreases).  I’ll fight as much as I can, but will likely have to work out a payment plan.

Again, I guess I need to plan for the unexpected.  We’re still working on building up our emergency savings.  The trick is not to be discouraged.  Most importantly, my son received great care, praise God!

Anyway, here’s hoping for a less eventful weekend.

$6.80 Can Turn Into Much More

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Finding a hole in my debt that, while it may seem small, adds up.  Most mornings I go to a small diner and buy myself a large cup of coffee and a platter of bacon and eggs with cheese (no bread).  The workers all know my name, and have my eggs started before I’m even out of my car.

Those seven bucks add up.  So, while I have a habit of pulling into that driveway each morning, I realize that it is time to make the small changes, such as skipping breakfast at the local diner, and stopping the local coffee runs.

Today I made myself a cup of black coffee for breakfast.  Since I’m trying the 16/8 intermittent fasting protocol (though not faithfully), the goal of 70 percent and the goal of healthier living can go hand in hand.  Discipline takes more than motivation, it takes the first baby step.

My wife and I had a budget meeting yesterday, and discovered some extra debt we forgot about.  Instead of being stressed, I’m actually encouraged.  We’re making the right steps now, communication being the most important at this stage, and we’ve come up with a plan that we’re going to execute on.  We’re not under water, but we were neglecting our budget for so long that certain things were basically forgotten about.  No longer.

Happy budgeting, and have a great day!

Grow Your Own

We’ve been gardening for years now.  Well, more aptly, my wife has.  But recently I’ve taken an interest in gardening and homesteading.  Homesteading is a long way off.  However, our town has community gardens, so for 10 bucks, we were able to secure a plot.  Though late in the season, we spent the entire weekend clearing it up and I built some cheap garden beds.

The kids are enjoying going to the “farm” (as they refer to it) and working hard.  We see this as practice for something larger in the future, but it has also been great meeting new people, some who have years of experience with gardening.

This is the before picture.  I’ll try to get some after pictures.  Seriously, 10 bucks for a nice sized garden plot!

 

Envelopes

My wife and I have been discussing this.  We used to follow the envelope system.  You know…set a weekly budget, pull the cash needed for those expenses and place them in categorized envelopes.  Gas, food, etc.  It forces us to be disciplined in a way that the debit and credit card doesn’t.

Right before my wife was pregnant with our first child, we realized we needed to get out of debt.  Between car loans, student loans, and credit cards, we had about $40,000 in debt.  Just by following the envelope system, and really limiting our spending, we paid that debt off in a year.  Our first child was born into a debt-free family!

Over the years, we’ve seen our income grow.  And we’ve grown with that income.  We abandoned the envelope system for other systems, thinking that because we had more money coming in, we no longer needed to follow that.  Besides, it was a pain to have to walk or drive to the bank to pull the cash out (life is busy when you start having more children).  We even tried digital envelope systems.

Nothing was as effective as the hard cash envelope system that we used back in the mid-2000’s.

Wish us luck!

Execution – We failed to follow through on our budget

We’re back home from the trip up to New England.  I failed big time.  I did not follow through with my plans to live on a tight budget during the trip and my bank account is feeling the pain.

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Some of the kids enjoying the attractions at Stew Leonard’s

What went wrong?

I think I grew tired with all of the driving.  I did not set out to go to the grocery store first, rather, we rationalized that we’d stop at a local grocery store once we were in the area.  We were too tired and it was too easy to grab some junk food from a local fast food joint.

We did not pull cash ahead of time.  So it was just easier to pull out the credit card.  I find that I don’t enjoy pulling cash out of my wallet, while pulling the credit card out doesn’t give bother me as much.

In short, we had a plan to budget for the road trip, but we didn’t execute on it.

I have to do better as a father and a husband.

Also, what is it with sleeping at other people’s houses?  I feel so tired this Tuesday morning.

Traveling on a Budget

We have a short trip planned.  A necessary trip to visit some family members that live a couple hundred miles away from our neck of the woods.  The temptation while traveling is always to stop for food.  With a family of 7, the travel budget bloats excessively.

I think we’ll try to stop at a local grocery store, fill up a cooler of food, and be on our way.  Leave our cash and CCs in the car if we have to make any pit stops for rest room visits.

It is such a challenge when traveling to stay on budget, but there are a few things we can do to help with the bleeding:

  • Again, pack some food in a cooler
  • Pull some cash for the trip.  Lock the CC in the glove box.  I tend to spend less when using cash (NOTE: we use a CC by default, but pay the balance off at the end of each month).
  • Find some free activities to do with friends and family.  This can be a challenge if your friends want to go out to eat.  If so, we have the travel budget cash.  Keep within that budget.
  • Limit the amount of driving.  I’m already driving a few hundred miles round trip.  The wear & tear on the car and the gas will add up.  Especially with the large van we drive!
  • Sleep at a family member’s house.  Done.

My family members do not eat healthy.  So the grocery store visit is important for me and my family.  So I could choose to eat the excessive carbs and sugars that they all have stocked in their shelves, but I don’t put a price on health when it comes to my family.  Plus, we’re trying to encourage them to make sound decisions with their own personal health.

Anyway, what unique and creative ideas have you come up for traveling on a budget?