Financial Peace at 8

Finances and the study of it, reading about it and trying to organize my funds are all things I enjoy on a small-scale. I have a saying I have used for a long time which is: “I spend my money on paper before it spends me!” The word budget is almost like a four-letter word when I mention the “b” word to most people. I do not quite understand that at all. We do a budget every month and simply write down what we think we will spend each month and what we have to work with. I am not an anal budgetary person, but just like to record and organize it in such a way that it is pre-planned and not spent first. I cannot fathom not doing this whether I made $20K or $200K. I was not reared in my home talking about money. The only talk on money was the lack thereof. I knew nothing about a savings account or a budget. I wish I had known more then…

Well, several years ago early into our marriage we began trying to adopt some of the financial principles found in Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace. I am so glad we did and we live by those principles today and they have been extremely helpful.

At the beginning of the year, we introduced the Financial Peace Jr. concept to Lauren and so far, it has gone well. The FP JR. concept utilizes a commission based approach versus an allowance. She has a weekly chore list with commission amounts she can earn for completing the tasks. It hopefully will connect the dots for her that work=pay (commission) vs. an allowance and she gets a set amount weekly no matter what she does.  We are about 8 weeks in and so far she earns an average of $3/week. She has bought her some books and a souvenir on her spring break vacation with her own money! She gets her weekly chart each Sunday and turns it in on Fridays to get paid each week. The first few weeks were constant reminders from us, but she now has her sheet on my desk every Friday to get her money.

Once she gets paid, we have a spreadsheet that shows her how her money is split into 3 categories-1. Save (5%), 2. Give (15%), and 3. Spend (80%)-she can use this amount to spend on whatever she wants. This will hopefully cement in her mind that she is to give to herself and to God a portion of all she earns. I think these are valuable lessons for all ages, but especially valuable at age 8. I wish I knew this at 8!

I See the $$

I wrote a few weeks ago in a blog entitled “Show me the Money” about the delay of Alabama state tax refunds. Well, we finally received ours last Friday after an 8-week delay. Finally…I see the $$!

I was losing hope that we would actually receive it due to the long delay, but we did and I am glad that is over. While it is the eve of Tax Day, April 15, some are scrambling to do their taxes at the last minute. I am glad I am in the boat that this one item is crossed off the list completely.

Show me the Money

Show me the money! Show me my Alabama state income tax refund that is. Tomorrow will be six weeks since our state return was accepted and approved, but we have yet to receive it. We did e-file and also did direct deposit. At that time, it stated the money should be in our account within 8-14 business days. That time has come and gone.

It  has never taken this long for a refund to come back. When I first went to the website to inquire, I received a message that our refund would be issued in the “due course” of business. Due course was 8-14 business days in my opinion.

I then “googled” it to see if I was the only one in this dilemma. I found out I was not and that other fellow Alabamians were enduring the same slow process.  Also, I found an article that stated that due to the economy, the state was not able to hire the influx of part time workers they usually do to help expedite and process refunds. Hence, the reason for the delay I guess.

Well, I checked the website again tonight on our refund status and this is the message I received this time:

Refunds are being issued from 6 to 8 weeks following approval, but this turnaround time will increase as April 15 approaches. Refunds are issued from the Education Trust Fund as fund balances allow. Thank you for your patience and please be assured the ADOR is doing everything possible to expedite your refund’s approval and issuance.

Hmmm…as fund balances allow??? That  means I could or could not receive my refund? I am not sure I like the sound of that.

Alabama-just show me the money!

New Toy!

Motorola Krave™ ZN4This is really the year for me for techno toys as I have previously stated. My new toy this time is my new cell phone: the Motorola Krave by Verizon!  I have had it for a week now and I love it. I was forced to get a new phone because my old one stopped ringing. Yeah, that is right the speaker went out and it no longer rang. Of course, me being cheap wanted to get it fixed and the salesperson looked at me with pity and disdain as she stated it was not fixable and that I would have to purchase a new one. Her look said to me that I obviously was not hip or in tune to try and keep my old raggedy, cheap flip phone that was 2 years old. Maybe that was not her intent, but that is what I received.

Well, that news took me a week to get over as I comtemplated that it was not fair that I was forced to spend money on a new phone when I did not want to. Then I finally stopped my whiny, pity party and decided either to keep “wearing” my phone so I could feel it vibrate or to get up and go the store and buy a new phone. So, off to the store I went. I decided I would not go cheap, but find something I would like. The Krave is one of the newest Verizon phones. It is all touch screen and has a clear flip screen that is cool. I also can watch Mobile TV on the phone and it has Visual Voicemail capability which is another favorite. Visual Voicemail is a feature where you do not have to call into your voice mail to listen to your messages. Instead of your phone reading you have 5 messages, it will show you who the message is from. You can then pick which message you want to listen to and press one button and it plays the message for you audibly. How cool is that?

So far, I am loving the phone. The only thing I am having to get used to is texting on a touch screen. It is much more difficult than having a hard keyboard to press. But, each day I am getting better. I am glad I did not go cheap. I am happy with my non-cheap selection! 2008 is ending with a bang:)

The Price of a Noise

Two facts right up front:

FACT #1-I drive an Acura 3.2 TL.       FACT #2-I am cheap by most people’s standards. How are the two related? Keep on reading. First of all, I must say I love my car. It is pure luxury and drives like butter with a sports type engine. When I was looking for a car 4 years ago, I had narrowed it down to an Acura or a Lexus. The Acura won out and I have enjoyed it every since.

About me being cheap. If you let my husband tell it, I am real cheap.  When we go together to purchase a major item, he always goes for the most expensive item and I go for the cheapest. You can imagine the many discussions we have on which to buy. In the past year or so, I have admitted I am cheap and I have tried to have more balance.

Well..a few weeks ago, I got in my car and locked the doors. Out came a loud squeaky, squealing noise as I locked the doors. It literally scared me because it was so loud every time I locked the doors. I told Marcus about it and we talked about how and when we could get it fixed with our work schedules. In my mind, I figured it needed a little WD-40 and a new part. Total price in my mind of what it would cost-$75 tops! Well, I asked Marcus just how much he thought it would be to fix it and he said “Oh, probably about $150!” My eyes got big and my mouth got taut as he had already doubled the price in my mind. How could a lock repair cost that much? And remember I am cheap, so that was an extra whammy to my budget conscious mind as I pored in my head what I would have to not buy so that this would all work out. I already had shopping on my monthly list, so I moved that to the side in my head as I caught my breath over $150. My next thought-do I really need to get this fixed? How many times will I have to lock my door? These were the thoughts in my cheap head. Marcus then informed me to stop being cheap and ridiculous and said we needed to get it fixed becasue the lock would eventually go out. So, a few weeks later we took it in to be fixed and later that afternoon, the mechanic called to let me know how much it was going to be. I had already accepted the $150, so I was not worried when he called. A few seconds later, I went in pass out mode again when he told me it would be $368.00 to fix the lock! WHAT!!! I looked at Marcus and asked him what did he know about fixing locks. He said he could probably do it, but not 100% sure and it would take him a long time. The mechanic then said the part itself cost $250. Long story short, we got the lock fixed yesterday.

The price of a noise??? I was glad this morning that I could lock my door when I got to work and not worry about someone being in the parking lot to hear the embarrassing sound. But, we are $368 less than I would want right now. Again, the price of a noise? I’ll just go and cry now…