Fiscal Responsibility

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One of the hardest things I’ve had to learn as an adult is Fiscal Responsibility. That is, managing my money. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve forgotten to pay the electric, the water, the cable…bounced a check (I should own stock in WAMU/Chase for all the checks I’ve bounced)…you name it–though I’ve gotten much better over the years. And there’s just no reason for it other than I’m a horrible money manager!!

I decided late last year, with the recession, the biggest favor I could do myself (and the kids) was get out of debt.

To that end I made the VERY difficult decision to pull a huge chunk of money out of my retirement account (but I had to wait until this Spring). Yes Yes I know! Penalties and fees and taxes oh my! But I talked it over with my finance dude and a) I’m young b) that means I’ve got at least another 20-30 years of working left in me and c) paying off not just credit cards but the car will free up enough money to allow me to put money back INTO savings and eventually funnel it to some sort of IRA fund. And also c) late payments are not just wrecking my credit and lowering my credit score, but making me pay higher home and car insurance rates, so e) with improved credit scores those insurance rates will go down.

Seeing as how I’ll soon have to add another driver *sob* (and a boy to boot) onto my car insurance (and then yet another in like 2011-12), I need all the help I can get. And eventually I’m going to have to invest in a second vehicle, but we have a while on that one. There’s also the new fence that’s desperately needed, some tree trimming which is God-Awful expensive, bathroom tile repairs that’ll probably set me back a couple grand or more, and new floors in the house–also a huge expense.

I’ve been doing this in chunks and I’ve got $100.00 left on one credit card and one last big payment on the car. By July the only real debt I’ll have is the mortgage and my student loans. It’s slow going but we’re getting there. I’m not so worried this year about those summer electric bills (w/two teens home all day) or the food bills (w/two teens and their friends in and out all day–and #1 son officially has the bottomless stomach of suck that can’t be filled. Ohhhhh 15 how I love you what a wonderful age *sigh*). There probably won’t be a birthday trip for the big 4-0, but I do see a new dryer in my future πŸ˜€

So, share your money saving tips with me!

7 thoughts on “Fiscal Responsibility

  1. I have none to give you because I’m right tere with you, so ill be paying close attention to this post since I need all the help I can get as well. Grea post, I totally feel your pain.

  2. *Solar screens. It would probably cost $600 to do your whole house, but it’ll pay for itself in a year w/electricity savings. If you don’t do the whole house, at least do the east/west windows (like I did).

    *Home warranty. If your a/c and appliances are old, it’s worth paying $40 a month for a home warranty. If anything ever breaks, you’re out a $60 service fee (and maybe some code upgrades) and that’s it. $4,000 a/c or $800 fridge finally craps out? $60 bucks.

    *Higher collision deductibles on your auto insurance. Once you add your son, your insurance will most likely double. Raise your collision deductible to $1000 and that’ll help cushion the blow. You could also take defensive driving for a discount w/most companies.

    *Automatic bill pay – it has helped me immensely to have my smaller bills (under $100) automatically drafted. The money is gone before I notice it, so I’m not able to skip them or push them back (and get late fees) just because they’re small and “I can pay them later”.

    *A/C timer and controls – you can get controls that keep the a/c set at a certain temperature for certain times of the day and can’t be adjusted. This would keep the kids from turning the a/c down to 60 and wasting electricity.

    *Claim the fence on your home insurance – if the fence was blown down or knocked over (not just old and falling down), you can file it on your insurance. It would be covered under a wind/hail claim and you’d just pay your deductible.

    That’s about all I’ve got. I’m broke too. LOL

  3. Jen these are fab!!

    Will definitely look into solar screens–soon as i pay the second half of the taxes on the house *yikes!*

    I do auto-bill pay for the small bills too (water and telephone). And w/the city, i had so many on time water payments they gave me my deposit back! And I still need to do that home warranty!!!

    I highly recommend paying the minimum on large credit cards and putting more toward the smaller ones until you free up more dinero to put toward the bigger debt.

    And of course not eating out *laughing hysterically* which is fattening as hell AND expensive.

    Unfortunately the fence is REALLY old. I kept hoping a storm would tear it down LOL i dont remember my deductible but I think a new fence might cost less–I priced those laminate fences and it was min 3k for the back of the yard plus the two front sides (including a new gate). The upside of course is, you’d almost never have to put a new fence in. The downside is the initial expense πŸ™ I’m thinking a really nice regular fence would run less than 3k but haven’t priced them.

  4. Well I know all the great advice that’s out there and works for people, like flooding your highest card with payments first, and skipping all those pampering things, and living lean. I’ve been there and done that at least 200 times in 30 years, still don’t buy more than 3 outfits a year (undies and bras don’t count, lol) but I have sucky luck, and everytime I get a handle on it, stuff breaks down (cars, trucks, mowers) something in the house blows up (heat pump, dryer, water heater) and someone in the family out of state gets ill or worse, and I lose track of time for months dealing with personal stuff.
    My dil often laughs (in that sad way:) that she has never seen a couple like me and hubby, who will get lined out, make a plan to fix something and five things happen to blow that idea out of the water.
    I have a daughter who lives very basic, cash only, she and her preacher husband on a strict budget without the net and much TV, she is likely that way because when we raised two kids were were frugal and poor, lol. My son, not so much, because his job pays more but he has 4 kids from 3-15 to feed and dress and all that school expense, so broke is a fact of life. It’s tough with insurance, dental, and food costs, let alone any extra. So you do what you can and try not to let it keep you from enjoying life.

    I think it’s good to keep trying to live within our means and to not get attached to things and stuff, simply because having bills sucks and can get depressing as hell. But I’d say feel good when you free yourself from some of those burdens and keep doing what you are doing, just prioritize (sp)

    and me- I put the bills in the kitchen where I have to look at them when I’m in there grazing every five min. lol. The advice I’ve given son is, do your job, go to work, try and pay your bills and always decide between what you want, and what you need, and don’t feel guilty if you slip up now and then. It’s tough in this economy and tougher when you start out behind people who have support and good incomes when they are young. Struggling sucks, but you get used to it and attitude has something to do with that.

    I think you are on the right track, and those now and again reality checks w the kids growing into young men will help you keep doing that. It’s all a matter of choices when you can make good ones, and the emergencies and stuff not planned for, is just a part of life–or in my case, sucky luck, (grin) I’m used to it actually.

    You’re a great lady, talented, good mom (we can all tell) and you’ll take this on like you do the thousand other things you accomplish and learn something about yourself that is valuable. The kids probably will too, although if I recall debating with teens on video game systems or movies vs renting, eating out vs them using the microwave, wasn’t a great deal of fun, (snort)
    and yes I came home to 5-10 young men in my house most days and had them weekends and wondered how they could consume food and still be hungry. If we weren’t working 2 jobs a peice i don’t know how we would have done it. Yet it was a great/fun time when the kids were teens.

    Best of luck and yes, I understand your choice, we did something similar when we stopped living in apartments and moved 400 miles, bought a house 11 years ago, you gotta do what you think is best, and it looks like you are.

    Lol, this is the part of serious life that ain’t all that much fun, but attitude will make all the difference. It’s always good to have some goal that makes us feel a bit more in control and free from worrying and pacing when the bills come due.

    Just feel great about the baby steps and eventually you’ll get where you can relax a bit more.
    Evie aka Gayle Eden/Eve Asbury

  5. We got our solar screens from Quality Solar Screens. We paid $175 to do two huge windows four years ago.

    We bought the regular grade, but if I could do it over again I’d pay the extra cost to get the heavy duty ones on our west windows.

  6. (((((((EVIEMAC!!!!!!!!) How you been girl!

    >>I think itÒ€ℒs good to keep trying to live within our means and to not get attached to things and stuff, simply because having bills sucks and can get depressing as hell.

    I’m just tired of feeling that freaked out, overwhelmed and struggling feeling all the time. Yes, you have to splurge now and again. And yes I agree that balance is definitely the key, but it’s also long past time I learned to put money away for rainy days!

  7. Yep, it’s all a matter of balance. I’ve had those oh god moments of dumping from the savings account in an emergency. But reality checks are good and rainy day always makes us feel like we’re not totally without a back up.

    LOL, we bought only our 2nd new car in 30 years, a G-5 -my old bronco finally bit the dust, and what we save on gas, milage, is awesome, so though the extra payment, insurance was scary, it was a good choice. Hubby drives a work truck (his blew up last year) so sometimes it takes looking at the plus that pays off in the long haul.

    Eh, dunno about saving on electric bills, our co raised rates 11 times last year, so everything we did and are doing, new sub floor, insulation, new heat pump, sorta gets gulped up in the rate hike. I’m going to finish doing it though, because it’s been nice not having my ass freeze to the bathtub in winter.

    lol, doin’ okay, trying to juggle all those summer chores and writing stuff/ always decisions/ and stay sane. πŸ™‚
    ((( Hugs back)))