Posts Tagged “Finance”

I know a lot of people who have had to take furloughs at work and are cutting back on their spending.

One of my friends recently sent me a great web site and I wanted to share it. It’s  got good budgeting tips, recipes, coupons, and gift ideas with mixes for all kinds of recipes.

I found homemade marshmallows, nutri-grain bars and granola bars to name just a few.

So HERE IT IS

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Glue 4 Families had a great post on grocery budgeting and what the US spends compared to other countries. It’s really interesting…check it out real quick!

I commented that I spend about $80 for food a week, not including miscellaneous stuff, like paper towels, pet food, tp, etc. A couple other commenters were surprised.

So I thought I’d do a quick demo on how we get through the week.

I keep our dinners at $6 or less a night. That’s $42 or less. Sound hard? It was at first. But dinners don’t have to be complex to be good. One night I might have split pea soup with sausage in the crockpot (under $2 for the peas and $2 for the sausage links).  Then I use the other link in something else that week, like a red beans and rice ($2 for big can of kidney beans, got the sausage, put it over rice).  We also buy bags of potatoes (new potatoes 5 lbs @ $3) and have potatoes, veggies ($1 for frozen) and bratwurst ($2-3) and again, use the potatoes in something else, like ham and potato chowder (ham for $2-3 and $2 for celery). And breakfast for dinner is a fun one, too (french toast, $3 for bread, $1-2 for extra eggs, $2 for sausage).

Some things are staples…flour, rice, eggs, cooking supplies, cereal. I make cornbread, biscuits, and/or bread throughout the week, too, to add to the soups. And we do a lot of brown rice, which we also eat for breakfast…rice and flies (add milk to the rice on the stove, throw in raisins, cinnamon and sugar and heat up).

That’s where the rest of the $80 goes, to the staples. And I spend about $15 on baby food/formula a week. But that shouldn’t last more than a couple months longer (yay!)

But we also have the non-food items that 4 people need, the pets, and regular household supplies. So not every week is 80 bucks, but we try to keep it close.

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With all the talk about recession and stimulus packages, I thought I’d look up what’s recommended spending by professional money managers.  If we all stick to something like this, we won’t have to worry about losing house, cars, etc.

  • 35% of income should go to housing (mortgage, taxes, repairs, improvements, insurance & utilities)
  • 20% transportation (payments, gas, insurance)
  • 20% other expenses (food, insurance, medical, entertainment, clothing)
  • 10% savings (stocks, bonds, cash)
  • 20% other (debts, loans) Of course, if this percentage is lower for you, it can be added into mortgage or savings.

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Lately we’ve decided to cut back on our spending. We’ve cut Rhapsody, Starz movie channels, groceries (splurges/unnecessary stuff), and this week car payments. How?

We traded in Paul’s ’02 Altima to a ’04 Corolla S. Trading cut not only car payments, but gas (yay!) as well.

On our way home from the dealership, we stopped and got milk.  I remarked to Paul, “You realize how blessed we are?  We’ve got 2 nice cars, a home, a big yard (half acre), toys for the kids, clothes for the kids. We can buy milk whenever we need to. We never worry if we have food for dinner. Our kids don’t need to go without a meal. We can go to the doctor when we want to. We buy the diapers we like, not the cheapest ones out there. We’re certainly not rich, money is tight, but we have some nice things, too.”

Of course he agreed.

I’m a firm believer when you’re in trouble, you’ve got to row for shore while praying for a breeze. And while my sweet husband works hard for what we’ve got, I also believe in being thankful to my Heavenly Father for giving him the job he has (long story, but trust me…it was no coincidence.)  So this Sunday, I’m so thankful for all the many blessings I have.

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The rumor is Washington Mutual went under because of a run on the bank yesterday. Word on the ‘net is that there have been a few other runs around the country. Sound familiar?

The government is trying not to say the word “depression”…instead they’re saying “recession.” Recession as in bald guy or just receding hair line?

We learned about the Great Depression in the history books and shows on tv…or we heard about it from our grandparents. There are stories of families packing up wagons and cars with their belongings and driving around searching for jobs. There were signs up that told would-be workers, “No jobs here…keep moving.” Whole families would work for mere bread. Hundreds of hollow, hungry faces stare up in pictures in lines at soup kitchens.  Parents gave food to their children and ate nothing themselves. Many put cardboard in their shoes because there were holes in the soles.

But you never think it will happen in your lifetime.

And it probably won’t, to that extreme. But, if there is a depression, how will your life change? Is your job secure? Do you have food for your kids stored up? What about extra blankets and water? A generator with extra gas? Do you know what you could cut to minimize your bills?

I certainly don’t think a rush on the grocery stores would be helpful, so I’m not suggesting we all go out and buy stuff. But it is a good time to think and get ready for recession, whether it is fully bald or just receding.

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We decided to par down our grocery bill lately. This can be difficult for me, since I like to make a wide variety of foods and they’re not usually boring or repetitive. I like the challenge of cooking complexly. So I came up with a menu for the week and thought I’d share, just in case anyone needs some ideas.

And if you have some, please share! If I get enough (7 or more), I’ll make a future post with them and links to your blog (was that shameless?)

  1. pancakes (already had a mix but it’s still only a couple bucks) & bananas
  2. breakfast burritos (tortillas, eggs, turkey sausage, cheese-had eggs and cheese, so $3.50)
  3. beef & green bean stir fry (only bought beef $5; neighbor gave us fresh green beans)
  4. turkey meatloaf and carrots ($4)
  5. pizza and mix veggies (under $6)
  6. bean soup and biscuits ($2.50 for soup mix)
  7. grilled chicken, veggies & new potatoes ($8)

Not bad! Not terribly interesting, but not awful either.

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I saw this post today and was thinking about the term SuperMom. I talked to my husband about it and he of course said that I was a supermom, but that’s beside the point. To me the definition of a supermom is a mom that can do it all and not just do it all but be happy doing it all. You have to enjoy it and live in the moment. That includes changing poopy diapers while the older child is on the potty yelling “MOMMY!!!” and the oldest one is asking you to do laundry all at the same time your husband is walking through the door asking for dinner and the kitty litter needs to be changed. To me it’s not about working inside or outside of the home, it’s simply about doing it all.

My view on working and putting children in daycare is that most of the time it is not worth the effort. Quite often the expenses of a daycare are so close to what a parent might earn, and then adding in gas prices, work clothes, extra cost of quick meals, stress, and missing out on your kids, that it isn’t worth it. After all of that calculate how much you earn an hour and see if that’s really worth it. Sometimes we just need to scale back on how new the car is, how big the car is, or how big our vacations are. Live simply and enjoy the day-to-day life with kids, animals, cooking, and all that goes into a stay-at-home mom’s life.

So am I a supermom? Most definitely 🙂 Ask my husband.

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This could really be big to the local communities if drillers find enough natural gas. It is one of the three largest potential onshore resources of natural gas in the United States, according to the U.S. Geological Survey.

Marcellus shale, named after the town in New York where it was found, is mostly in western New York and Pennsylvania and much of West Virginia. The area also dips down into Maryland’s Garrett and Allegany counties, as well as a few others. There’s reports of small towns’ hotels filling with drillers and speculators hoping to dip into this. It was originally found 25 years ago, but set aside as the gas crisis the US had passed.

Even if no very large discoveries are found in this region, drilling activity here could have a great impact on our local economy, as well as to those to the east of us. It would produce many jobs, raise paychecks of workers, tighten labor supplies, and hopefully result in lower energy costs. And since our energy cost has gone up so much in January, I’d love to see drilling. It’s rumored that drillers are paying local farmers $1500-2500 an acre for drilling rights, then royalty on top of that if gas is found.

So we’re really going to keep an eye on this, seeing that it’s our area!

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I called one of my sisters today to catch up on life. She began telling me about work-related stresses they had last week. She and her husband own their own business and, therefore, have the occasional up-and-downs associated with doing so. Well, last week “Jane”, an employee for a competitor, sent out libelous letters to business and potential businesses who would employ my sister’s company. Jane said that the company was doing things that were not in code and that employing companies should stay away from my sister’s business. So my sister and bil went to their lawyer, who said, yes, you can prove it libel, and yes, you can sue…but it’ll cost $30-40k and would probably be better to write letters showing proof of good business, etc.

The conversation then turned to how fragile our life situations can be. If her business went under due to these kinds of problems or they lost jobs, they’d be in big trouble. They owe on equipment for work. They have a new house. They recently got a new truck for the business. Losing work would take all of it out from under them.

I think most of us are in the same boat. My husband once lost his job; we picked up and moved across country. Our community is very small, and we’d likely have to do the same thing if it happened again.

Living paycheck to paycheck is getting more difficult, especially with the increase of gas and grocery prices. “Wal-Mart, the world’s largest retailer, said the imbalance in spending before and after payday in July was the biggest it has ever seen…”, according to a 2007 study CBS did. And that was a year ago.  About 50% of Americans live paycheck-to-paycheck.

” Analysts at The Heritage Foundation recently examined how going from $3 and $4 retail to $5 and $6 retail per gallon of gasoline would affect the U.S. economy. If prices continue to rise at an accelerated pace over the course of a year:

  • Total employment would decrease by 586,000 jobs,
  • Disposable personal income would decrease by $532 billion,
  • Personal consumption expenditure would decrease by $400 billion, and
  • Personal savings would be spent to help pay the cost.”   (http://www.heritage.org/Research/Economy/bg2162.cfm)

Ouch!!!  So what do we do? Drive less and pray more! The LDS church has counseled its members for decades to build up a food storage that would last a year. This is wise counsel for anyone. If my husband lost his job, or my sister’s business had to go lean, we would have at least food to help our families.  But food doesn’t pay for gas and utilities. Each of us has to put away savings, even if it’s $10 a paycheck for occasions like this.

Money comes and goes and sometimes all we can do is hang on tight and hope we’re prepared for the worst. Our life situations can change in an hour.

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