The good news: Shortly after posting our October update, we made a $2,000 payment to a student loan! Such an awesome feeling. I really hope we can annihilate the next loan before the end of the year. Our emergency fund ($3500) and maternity leave savings ($1500) would wipe out the loan, and I am sooooo tempted to just dump them in there. But I like having our savings security blanket. If we still have the same amount of savings in our accounts in late December, though, I might just do it!
|Loan Type||Last Month’s Balance||Current Balance||Current Payment||Difference||Progress from Sept 2013|
|My Bar Study|
(*having login problems with this one, I don’t know the current balance)
The other … news: Baby Stapler has not yet arrived. It’s good news because we’re happy that he will bake a little longer, but it’s still frustrating because my body is a mess and I’m just barely scraping by with work and family obligations. If I’d known that 2014 would be the summer that never ended, we might have timed this baby a little differently.
Mid-month, I checked our net worth and was disappointed to see that it had gone down by $1,000. Then I checked our retirement accounts and saw that they had dropped by $5,000. So, I knew that we are still on the right track with our spending and savings goals — to the tune of $4,000 on the right track — but the market volatility is playing games with our net worth. To that end, I don’t know how useful it is to pay attention to our net worth as opposed to just our debt paydown. Regardless, I’m not making any changes to our net worth reports just yet.
Saving and Earning Challenges
Over the summer, I set some extra savings and earning goals. I achieved some of them, then a few more, and last month made a little more progress. Now that Baby’s arrival is imminent, October was my last month to achieve them. Here’s how I did:
- Sell my old Barbies and nicer clothes and dresses on eBay: $24… so far! I listed 10 clothing items for sale and sold two of them, so I relisted the rest of them and adjusted the price or descriptions. Hopefully I can clean out even more of my closet and make some bucks in the process. If they don’t sell by the time the baby arrives, I’m going to put them in a ThredUp consignment bag because they’re nicer pieces, and if ThredUp lists them for over $20 then I can get a higher consignment rate. Twice doesn’t offer that option.
- Submit all Flex reimbursements: $280.98. We finally got a few bucks back, but I’m afraid that some of this money (to the tune of $224) is lost forever.
- Ratchet Down the Food Spending: Uh … no. Does anyone want to join me in a New Year Grocery Savings Challenge? I think a 10-week challenge would put me on the right track. How about you?
- Consign Clothes: $55.60. If you read my post two weeks ago, you know that I sent bags full of unwanted clothes to two online consignment shops. I have already gotten paid by one of them, and am awaiting my $42 payment from the other. It took me about an hour from start to finish to consign these clothes, so that’s a decent hourly rate!
TOTAL EARNINGS: $346.58 … for a TOTAL savings and earnings of $2,571.85 plus $191 per month!
Net Worth Status:
Cash: + $1,146.13. Nice!
Credit Cards: – $270.77. The credit card spending continues its downward trend, which thrills me to no end. We just picked up a new credit card in order to get points, and I’ll have to enter that into Mint.com so we can track it. We got the AmEx Blue Cash Rewards card, which has a $250 bonus when you spend $3,000 in the first 3 months. We plan to put all of our daycare and food expenses on it, which should get us to the minimum required to get the bonus.
Loans: – $2,368.75. Woo hoo!
Investments: + $1944.65. See? No need to stress. We’re back to where we were a few months ago.
Net Worth: +$5,730.30. What an awesome month! It’s a good way to start maternity leave.
- Resist Lifestyle Inflation: SUCCESS! One particular success was finding out that there is a preschool choir at church, which rehearses every other week, and is free. This made it a little easier to turn down the $80 music classes offered as an “extra” at Little Stapler’s preschool.We also made some purchases this past month that were out of the ordinary, but they are still in line with our spending philosophy. One bigger purchase was $40 on Little Stapler’s kindergarten backpack, lunchbox, and pencil case. I scored them all at about 60% off during Staples’ “Fill the Bag” sale, combined with their Back to School clearance. Another major purchase was $100 for my fancy face lotion and skin scrub, which I buy once a year.The only big spending we did that was not in line with our values were the frequent pizza and takeout orders. That needs to change, but we’re tabling that issue until January. At least we used coupons and restaurant.com gift certificates to lower our out-of-pocket costs. But still … something’s gotta change.
- Make an Extra Student Loan Payment: SUCCESS! To the tune of $2,000. Yee haw!
- Get Ready for Baby. MOSTLY SUCCESSFUL. We bought a crib mattress, which I thought would be important because Little Stapler slept on his mattress for 3 years, so it got a little soft. But when the mattress arrived, we compared it to the old mattress and it was softer! So, we saved $80 by returning the new mattress.We also spent $40 on an ottoman for the glider, instead of a nursing stool. The borrowed co-sleeper is set up and I’ve washed all of the old cloth diapers. As a bonus, a friend of mine (who had the same problem with the velcro on her diapers) showed me how to attach snaps myself, and loaned me her tool for doing it. So, I just need to buy the snaps — no need to send them out. As for the bottles? Well … they’re missing. I have no clue where they might be at this point. I’ve looked for them everywhere. The carseat is also not installed yet. But it’ll have to be … soon!
- Survival: Haha! Kind of …
- Finish Christmas gifts: The Christmas gifts were bought long ago, and I have finished half of the handmade felt ornaments for my 11 nieces, nephews, and sons. I decided on felt gingerbread ornaments with jingle bells, which met instant approval by Little Stapler who, as soon as he saw my first prototype, starting shaking it around to jingle it and asked, “Is this for me?!” I knew I didn’t need to improve on them when I saw the look on his face. Sewing ornaments has been a great activity for the last month of pregnancy, although I have some carpal tunnel that is making it a little painful.
- Black Friday Shopping: Many people groan at the thought of shopping on Black Friday, but I love it. I hit up the major drugstores for free supplies that will last us all year and for stocking stuffers. In the midst of the haze of having a newborn at home, I plan to take that day “off” and hunt out some good deals. It’s a win-win for the entire family because I get a few hours “off,” the family saves a ton of money on toothbrushes, snacks, cleaning supplies, etc., and Mr. Stapler will get some good bonding time with Baby Stapler. Here are my almost-free hauls from years past:
- Re-Evaluate our Auto Insurance: I’ve been inspired to call up our insurance company to renegotiate our premium. J. Money, over at Budgets Are Sexy, recently lowered his as part of his CHALLENGE EVERYTHING! challenge, and a friend of mine lowered his premium by $400! He was so excited about it that he posted it on Facebook, and I got jealous! I already went on the GEICO website and dropped some unnecessary coverages, but that just saved me $29 every 6 months. If I have some time, I hope to shop around for better quotes and then see if GEICO can match or beat them.
What are your goals for November? Does holiday preparation hit your “to do” list this month, or do you wait until December?
Does anyone want to join me in a New Years Grocery Savings Challenge? I’m thinking of doing one thing to ratchet down the grocery spending each week, for 10 weeks — what do you think? Are you in?