Saturday, April 7, 2012

Saving the Moola: March in Review

This year just keeps getting better and better! This month, Jason and I got really fired up about our goals, and we have the feeling it's because we've started regularly listening to Dave Ramsey most weekdays (before, we listened sporadically). It's a goal daily to work on crafts, write or do something from 7 to 8 PM and listen to Dave. His show runs from 7 to 9 PM each weekday on WMUZ. We listen online at wmuz.com and stream the show. It's so affirming and encouraging! We highly recommend you give it a listen and see if it doesn't change your life.

Last month, I had struggled a bit with changing over to one big monthly grocery shopping trip followed by weekly produce shopping trips. Items ended up on the list that didn't need to be there, and items that needed to be on the list weren't. This month went so, so much better! We had such a surplus of money in our grocery envelope that we were able to stock up on foods at the salvage food store and eat out for lunch.

Speaking of salvage food stores, we highly recommend you give one a go and see if it's for you. If it's not, that's perfectly fine, but we are, overall, very pleased with the items we purchased mid-March. The chicken nuggets we bought turned out to be dark meat, and while we wouldn't buy them again, Jason (bless his heart!) is perfectly happy eating them for lunches and snacks. We enjoyed our experience so much that we're going to shop at another one when we're near it for an event in May - all with using money just from our grocery envelope of course!

We organized targeted areas of our home all throughout March (you can check out the first post of this right here), and while doing so, we needed bins, baskets and other miscellaneous items. That led to a rediscovering of how awesome dollar stores are! Make it a point to check out your local dollar store. Be sure to compare prices, but we think you'll be pleasantly surprised.

In February, we reported that we had made great headway on our savings goals for 2012. They have changed slightly since we posted them here, but our goal is to have one month of Jason's income saved (done!) and our vacation budget saved. We achieved saving our entire vacation budget for this year! We're pretty excited about that and talk weekly, if not daily, about how much fun our vacations are going to be this year. Vacations are all the more exciting when you know you have the money in the bank to pay for them all.

We were saving 10% of our income in a special emergency fund account. We have ceased doing that, as we are comfortable with the amount we have in there now, and we really, really, really want to pay off my two student loans. I have a little one and a big one (the little one is little in comparison to the big one, but I have to say that I think anything over $1 is big because I just don't like owing money!). Since our vacation fund is fully accounted for, we're throwing all our extra money at my student loans. We made some good headway on my baby loan in March and have goals for when we want each paid off.

There's been talk lately of people who just don't understand paying off loans faster than you have to. Some have said, "That's money you'll never see again." Besides the fact that we subscribe to the notion that you should pay off all debt you accumulated (we're sure there are some exceptions and can think of a few ourselves), student loans are another matter altogether. In most cases, student loan debt is never erased in bankruptcy (we feel the need to add that we do not know this from personal experience, but Suze Orman claims this practically weekly on her CNBC show and we're not going to argue with her). Paying off your student loans early benefits you. You're going to have to pay them anyway, why not be debt free as soon as you can? And you'll pay less interest! To each his or her own, but our personal belief is to pay them off as soon as we can, and nothing can deter us from this goal!

Any prayers you can send up to God on our behalf (to join with our own prayers!) are greatly appreciated to help us reach our goals of when we want the loans paid off.

Also, in March, we canceled our TV service with AT&T. We'll be sharing more about our thinking on this later in the month, but we're looking forward to a great savings on our AT&T bill!

All year, I've been sharing how my special envelope savings is going. I'm saving up for a special item to purchase for our household that is both fun and functional. I'm incredibly happy to report that I have now saved 100% of the item's purchase price! I was so excited when I can finally order the item, only to find it out it was backordered. For those who are curious of what I was saving my money for, I placed an order for the backordered the Bible Experience Electronic Bible. Jason loves to listen to books and I think this will be a great way for the both of us to listen to God's word while working, doing chores, etc.

I'm now saving up for another item for our household that we want - and I already have 38% saved for that item!!! It's truly through the grace of God that I've been able to save so well. I never thought I'd be able to save so much in a short amount of time with money that is unplanned (ie. doesn't come out of our paychecks). I fully anticipate that I'll be able to save enough to buy this item in April and already have my third and fourth items picked out!

Share with us: We'd love to hear how your financial goals are coming along and new tips + tricks you've discovered! Leave us a comment if you so desire.

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