The (Financial) Hits Keep Coming

house_dollars_dropdshadowThere are some days when being an adult really stinks.  Just when you think things are calming down, life throws another "fun surprise" your way.

A couple of months ago, my car had been making bad noises. I put off getting it checked out because I knew it would be expensive to fix. Sure enough, when it for so bad that I couldn’t ignore it anymore, it turned into a couple hundred dollar repair.  (Getting it fixed earlier wouldn’t have changed the price tag.)

A month later, we had to fix our chimney.  Ten years after having it repointed (the quality of which we question), the bricks were crumbling and letting water into our attic.  We needed the entire chimney removed and rebuilt at a cost of over a thousand dollars.

And then comes the day before Thanksgiving. While getting ready to cook dinner (after having baked a pumpkin chocolate chip cake for Thanksgiving dessert the next day), our oven died.  Specifically, it made a loud pop, sent out a bright spark towards our wood cabinets (which luckily didn’t catch fire), and stopped working.

I unplugged the oven, checked the circuit breaker (which was tripped), reset the breaker, plugged the oven back in, and tried it out.  The range top worked fine, but the clock and oven were completely dead.  We explored repairing it but it would have cost almost as much as a new oven.

We’ve already purchased a new oven.  Meanwhile, other costs loom ahead of us ready to drain the money from us the minute any money hits our bank account.

Considering that the new oven will take over a week to arrive, we’re going to need to be creative with microwave and slow cooker based recipes for dinners.

What slow cooker or microwave meals would you recommend? Remember, the meals shouldn’t require a stove or oven at all. (Vegetarian is also easier for us with kosher considerations.)

Note: The "home expense" image above is by scyg and is available via

Financial Organizational Resolutions

n_kamil_Money_-_banknotes_and_coinThe New Year is traditionally a time when people make resolutions.  They pledge to lose weight and hit the gym more.  Or they promise to learn a foreign language.  Some even declare that this is the year they break some annoying habit they’ve been unable to shake for years.  I usually don’t make resolutions, but this year I’m making two.

I’m pledging to be more organized where our finances are concerned.


Receipts can be essential to keep track of your finances.  Unfortunately, we’ve been a bit lax in this department.  This means that we our receipts tend to be put in one of a few different piles to be moved around, forgotten about, found again, and finally thrown out.  Clearly, we need a better system.  My plan is to put all of our receipts into a folder, organized by month. At the end of the month, I’ll go through them and tally up how much we spent on various categories.  After a few months, we should have a clear picture of where our money goes.

Meal Planning

Even though we haven’t figured out exactly how much we spend, we know that our food costs are one of the biggest items in our budget.  Part of this comes from a lack of meal planning.  Too many weeks, we try to decide what to make for dinner on a night by night basis.  This often means a last minute trip to the grocery store to get needed ingredients.  While there, inevitably, impulse purchases are made – often with "this sounds good for dinner another night" in mind.  This also can result in food waste – as perishable food is purchased without a clear plan and goes bad before one can be thought up.

By planning the meals for the week, we should be able to narrow this down our grocery store trips to one or two per week, eliminate many non-essential purchases, and cut back on our food waste.


Years ago, B and I would pour over the weekly flyers, cut coupons, and take our coupons with us to the grocery store.  I remember hunting through mounds of coupons to find one I knew we had so we could save some cash.  So what happened?  Kids and life happened.  Clipping and organizing coupons takes time.  Remembering to take them on shopping trips takes planning.  Kids introduce chaos and unpredictability into life and can make it tricky to stay organized and can make it more difficult to plan ahead.  However, every time we don’t use a coupon, we’re paying money that we could have saved.  We don’t need to go to the lengths that extreme couponers go to, but using *some* coupons will save us precious money.

What financial organizational strategies do you employ especially in the areas of receipts, coupons, and meal planning?

NOTE: The "money – banknotes and coin" graphic above is by n_kamil and is available from

The Life Insurance Paradox

dollar_smallRecently, things have been tight.  Thanks to car repairs, braces, and the general high cost of living, our budget has been stretched thin.  One of the items that seems to be stressing our budget regularly (as opposed to high one-time expenses) is life insurance.

On one hand, life insurance is very important.  Should something happen to B or me (or both of us), life insurance could be the difference between the kids (and B or me) being strapped for cash and having financial legroom.  On the other hand, life insurance isn’t cheap.  It costs a lot and we could put that money towards home repairs or to add some much needed bulk to our savings account.

For now, we are keeping the life insurance.  However, if things tighten up more, we’ll need to make some tough financial decisions.

Do you have life insurance?  If so, do you find that it stretches your budget?

NOTE: The 3D dollar symbol above is by vijayrajesh and is available from

Jackpot Dreaming

n_kamil_Money_-_banknotes_and_coinAs I write this post, on Wednesday night, the Powerball lottery hasn’t been drawn.  We don’t usually buy lottery tickets, but will sometimes buy a ticket or two when the Jackpot rises high.  Yes, I know that I’m more likely to be struck by lightning than win the lottery, but it’s the more the entertainment of the matter than an actual belief that I’m going to win.  Unfortunately, I forgot to buy a lottery ticket so, unless nobody wins the drawing, I’ll have to skip out on the "entertainment’ this time around.

Like many people, I’ve found that I need to live within a pretty tight budget.  There are a ton of items that I’d love to buy, but my finances nix those plans.  So what would I do if I won a big lottery jackpot?

First, of course, I would pay up all of our debts.  Our home mortgage and other loans would get immediately paid off.  Once we had no more debt, I’d put a nice big sum of money into bank accounts for the both of the kids for college, in our own bank account to save, and in a trust for the kids to access when they get older.  I would also give family and friends some money.

Next, with debt and saving out of the way, I would turn to spending some money.  I would buy a new car for B.  Mine isn’t too old, but I might splurge and get a new one also.  I’d go on a bit of a tech/geek spending spree, buying some computer equipment, DVDs, and the like.

My biggest purchase, though, would be a massive Disney World vacation.  I would pay for not only B, the boys, and me, but for my parents, B’s parents, my sister and her family, B’s brother and his family, and perhaps some other relatives.  We would fly to Florida, stay at a deluxe resort, eat at the best restaurants Disney has to offer, and have fun in the parks as one big happy family.

If you won a big lottery jackpot, what would you spend your winnings on?

NOTE: The money image above is by n_kamil and is available from

1 2 3