Saturday, April 8, 2017

Saving Money and Being Frugal - Week in Review - April 8, 2017

Here's what the week from April 1st-7th looked like:

Progress on Financial Goals I Set for this Week

Last week, I set four main goals and nine sub-goals to work on. This is how I did:


- Review the 12 Months to a More Organized Financial Life from Trivent magazine. Do the recommendations for January-April.

These are the four monthly tasks and my progress on them:

JANUARY: Review retirement savings options. Talked with the accountant who did our taxes; and - because there is a refund - we'll pre-pay all of 2017's taxes and then invest the rest in an IRA. We also will be making more regular payments to the SEPP-IRA and Roth-IRAs.

FEBRUARY: Protect the people you love. I still need to check to see if the beneficiary information on all insurance contracts; and investment and retirement accounts are updated.

MARCH: Prepare for a spring break getaway. I didn't go on a spring break vacation, so there was no need to notify credit card companies that I was or will be going on vacation.

APRIL: Make sure your taxes are right. The 2017 pre-payment amount for taxes will be lowered to reflect a change in income as well as an increase in business expenses. The accountant handled this so that the refund for 2016 taxes is directly applied to pre-payment of 2017 taxes.

- If the taxes are completed by the accountant and I can pick them up, do the following two things: (1) Make a deposit into two Roth IRAs; and (2) Help Sophia and Oliva set up their first mutual funds/Roth IRAs after meeting with a financial advisor.

The taxes were just completed late on Thursday and are ready for picking up.

My daughters and I went out of town on Friday after a morning of appointments, so I was unable to pick up the taxes on Friday and meet with the financial advisor. This will be done next week when we have more free time and before April 15th.

- Using the Letting Go of Debt (a daily meditation book) for ideas, I selected the following goals from the book:

            - Pick one discipline to practice every day for a week (whether it be to make my bed, walk every day, or record my expenses). DONE! As I mentioned above, I've been going through my homeschooling files and recycling what I no longer need or want each day this week as part of the Blogging from A to Z Challenge. It has been a rather labor-intensive project that I didn't foresee (in terms of scope).

However, I have been able to get rid of a lot of photocopies and clippings (from newspapers and magazines) which has freed up a considerable amount of space.

Interesting, the area where I've been doing the work on my files is in the financial corner (according to feng shui). This week, I received a $129 order for window stars and we received a considerable amount back in taxes (which we are using to pre-pay all of 2017'taxes and then open a SEPP-IRA with the balance).

Anyway, each day for the rest of the A to Z  Challenge, I'm going to continue to go through the files and keep only what I need and let go of what I don't want.

So far this month, I've written the following posts:

A is for Alphabets and Alphabet Books
Bears, Bread, Books, and Bodies
Cats, Character, and Chinese Inventions
Death, Deer, and Discovery Gardens
Earth Day, Easter, and Etiquette
Forests, Foxes, and Frogs
Games, Gardening, and Grain

            - Write down my top three priorities and keep them in mind when making any decision. DONE on Monday, April 3rd!

My top three priorities in terms of things to invest in for the future:
=> Maintaining the type of family life/living we have now (e.g., modest, comfortable, roof over our head).
=> Having a sufficient amount of money to pay for expenses - including health care - in retirement.
=> Being able to take trips to see other parts of the country and/or world.

Monitor on the airplane to Tokyo.
I'd love to go back to China to show
Sophia and Olivia where they born;
and then re-visit Japan to see my friend (Yoshiko) again.

I also think the following questions should be asked each time a purchase is made:
=> Does this purchase help me reach one or more of my priorities?
=> Are there more benefits than disadvantages to buying this item?
=> What will I have to sacrifice to get this item (e.g., not enough money to get food; less money at retirement)?

            - Brainstorm a list of simple treats that rely only on me - a hot bath, a walk in the park, or an exercise routine. Treats that will not only reward me but also will improve me. DONE on Wednesday, April 5th!

Here's the list of some things I came up with:

- A hot bath with fragrant soap and/or essential oils.
- Taking the dogs on a walk - whether it be down the road or at a state park.
- Use a face mask and nice lotion.
- Have a healthy snack - like mixed nuts or a piece of fruit.
- Do a nature journal entry.
- Read surrounded with the dogs and cats.
- Get a hammock and relax in that in the backyard.
- Enjoy a nice cup of hot chocolate or Russian tea.
- Spend some time coloring using Prismas (colored pencils).

One of the mandalas I colored with colored pencils.

- Look for small ways to save $500 or $1000 a year.  DONE on Wednesday, April 5th!

I looked online for ideas. These were some that were most relevant to our situation and could easily be tried:

- Skip the grocery store this week. See if you can't feed your family with the things that you already have in the pantry.
- Save money in a ceramic bank (like the ceramic fish I have from my parents). Use that to purchase items that are $10 and under rather than using a debit or credit card.
- Make your own gifts using items you have on hand.
- Repair clothing rather than buying new clothes.
- Prepare and freeze casseroles in bulk. You're less likely to buy fast food.
- Check out free events around the community and neighboring towns.
- Plant a garden. Use the seeds from last year that we didn't plant.
- Eat less meat....and eat more vegetables and fruits.

Vegetable and noodle salad I made.

- Clean my wallet. DONE on Friday, April 7th!

I needed to do this prior to taking a trip for the state Project Bowl to make sure I had needed items (e.g., driver's license, credit card for ID to check into a hotel, cash to pay for all expenses).

Got rid of a pile of expired cards, cards I don't use, receipts, and checks that stores give you back after you make a purchase.

Put together all the gift cards, movie passes, and discount cards. Realized I need to find current car insurance cards (the ones I have expired in February 2017).

            - Create a personalized checklist to track my behavior regarding money. (See February 10th for ideas.)

I did not do this. I'm thinking that it may just be one more thing I'd have to do in an already full schedule. Will think more about if doing this checklist would be of value.

            - Remember one joy or dream I had in my youth and find a way to reintroduce it into my life.

One of the things that I enjoyed doing as a child/teen was arts and crafts.

Almost done...just the edge needs to be embroidered
using the blanket stitch.

This past week, I worked more on a quilt and table runner. I think it's a matter of making the time...carving it out of my schedule and making it a priority.

The edge needs to be sewed and yarn ties added; and
then the quilt is done!

- Read Financial Peace Revisited by Dave Ramsey.

I didn't read the book this past week.


Progress on Blog Goals I Set for this Week

- Continue to work streamlining and organizing our home by doing Weeks 13 and 14 of the 52 Weeks to an Organized Home.

Yet another week went by that I didn't do this project. Cleaning the basement (which is Week 13) is a rather time-consuming project because I also want to wash the walls; bleach areas of the walls and floor; sweep the floor and seal it (where the drain tiling was installed); and organize items I am storing there.

Hopefully by the end of April I'll have this project done.

- Write an update about 40 Bags in 40 Days about Days 30-36.

In lieu of doing an update about the 40 Bags in 40 Days challenge, I've been posting daily pictures of cleaning my files and getting rid of 1-2 bags per day. Although it's not the same challenge, the end result is the same: decluttering.

Bags of recycling from two of the days this past week. 

The last time I wrote was March 29th. At that point, I had 43 bags I had recycled, thrown away, or donated. Add the 8 I've done through the Blogging from A to Z Challenge, and that's 51 bags total!

- Make natural Vapor Rub using essential oils. I didn't do this.

- Make Citrus Dusting Spray. I didn't do this.

- Write information that I want to remember from The Retirement Catch-Up Guide - 54 Real-Life Lessons to Boost Your Future Resources Now. I read this book last week...just need to type what I want to remember.

- Write information that I want to remember from Financial Peace Revisited. I didn't do this.

Smart and Not-so-Smart Purchases

Smart Purchase
- Private gymnastics lessons - although expensive (compared to class lessons) - the lessons have moved Olivia from Beginner to Intermediate and into Advanced in about a month's time. Compared to what it would have cost for Olivia to do the entire 8-week Intermediate class, the private lessons are less expensive. The goal is to get her to a level where the youth are about her age and eventual skill level.

Frugal Meals

- Ate leftovers for several meals which was a good way to stretch the food budget and use up what was on hand. The Blue Apron meals make more than the suggested four servings. We are getting about 7-8 meals from them which makes the meals more affordable and (calorie-wise) more in line with what we should be eating.

What was on the table for dinner last week:

Saturday - Pork roast in the crockpot.

Sunday  - Leftovers.

Monday - Roasted chicken in the crockpot.

Tuesday - Leftovers.

Wednesday - Blue Apron meal: Spicy Korean Rice Cakes

Thursday - Leftovers.
    
Friday - Out to eat (traveling).

My financial goals for this week:

- Check to see if the beneficiary information on all insurance contracts; and investment and retirement accounts are updated.

- Pick up the taxes from the accountant and then meet with the financial planner (in the same office) to do the following two things:

(1) Make a deposit into two Roth IRAs; and

(2) Help Sophia and Oliva set up their first mutual funds/Roth IRAs after meeting with a financial advisor.

- Read Financial Peace Revisited by Dave Ramsey.

Blog as it relates to saving money and home organization:

- Continue to work streamlining and organizing our home by doing Weeks 13 and 14 of the 52 Weeks to an Organized Home.

- Write an update about 40 Bags in 40 Days about Days 30-40.

- Make natural Vapor Rub using essential oils.

- Make Citrus Dusting Spray.

- Write information that I want to remember from The Retirement Catch-Up Guide - 54 Real-Life Lessons to Boost Your Future Resources Now.

- Write information that I want to remember from Financial Peace Revisited.



*Part of Financially Savvy Saturdays on brokeGIRLrich.*

3 comments:

Pamela said...

Great planning.

Vickie's Kitchen and Garden said...

Love your table runner and quilt very pretty. You are doing great!

brokegirlrich said...

I love your list of ways to treat yourself!