Getting Ready For A New Financial Year

I’ve taken the time today to do a little financial housekeeping, getting ready for a new financial year.

I reconciled the balances in our various checking and savings accounts.  All checks written have cleared and transactions have posted.  If you are a financial nerd like me, you know that’s awesome.

I then updated our inventory of financial accounts - taking the time to update account passwords and website information.  The inventory is designed for my wife, so that she would have a snapshot of our finances, should something happen to me.

After that, I took a peek at our retirement and college savings accounts.  I really need to do some more research before I touch our current investments, but I’m pretty happy with the progress we are making.

Our final mortgage payment for this year posted last week.  I made a note of just how much interest we paid last year.  We’ll receive a year-end statement in a few weeks, but I was curious.  I’ll stat working on our taxes in a few weeks and having this information on hand will be, well, handy.  I can’t wait until we have paid off our mortgage – in full!

Our insurance premiums are due twice a year.  Our next payment is due in June and I can now add that payment, divided by six, to our monthly budget.  I also did a quick review of our insurance coverage and I’m satisfied we are in good shape.

I have several apps on my phone that I use to manage our finances.  I took a few minutes and made sure that these apps were up-to-date and functioning properly.  I think I’ll write a post this week about the apps that help us save money!  Stay tuned.

new financial year image

Finally, I reviewed our credit reports – checking for any errors.

It feels good to be organized.  With these simple tasks behind me, I think I’m ready for next year.

What about you?  Are you getting ready for a new financial year?  Leave a comment below and share.  Blessings.

Tweet about this on TwitterShare on FacebookShare on StumbleUponPin on Pinterest
Continue Reading

How To Save Money In The Kitchen

I am a big fan of using a combination of coupons and a grocery price-book to save money when buying groceries.  I am also a big fan of saving money in the kitchen, after those groceries have been purchased.  Here’s how to save money in the kitchen – and minimize those costly trips to the grocery store.

These tips work for our busy family of 5.  There are no professional organizers in this bunch!

In the refrigerator -

Keep things neat and tidy.  It’s easy to forget what you have if you can’t see it.

Prep fruits and vegetables.  We have kids – and kids like convenience foods.  Rather than see our fruits and vegetables spoil, we slice and peel them when we buy them, and the kids eat them up.

Use it up.  Waste not, want not.  When a bottle is almost empty, turn it over, let gravity help you out, and use it up.

In the pantry -

Invest in a decent set of food storage containers.  Stale cereal is the worst.  We keeps ours nice and fresh in these cool Rubbermaid containers.  As soon as I get home, we remove cookies, crackers, and cereals from their bags and boxes and pour them into storage containers.  This keeps food fresher – and we think they make things look nicer, too!

Teach the kids to put away the groceries.  Our kids have been taught to help around our house.  As a result, they respect and value the things that we buy.

Put things where you can get to them – unless you shouldn’t.  I have a sweet-tooth, so I put all of the healthy stuff at eye-level – and the not-so-healthy stuff in the back.

Rotate your canned-goods.  Get in the habit of placing newer cans behind older ones.  Check those dates!

Donate what you do not need.  If you aren’t going to eat it – donate it to a local food-bank or homeless shelter.

Cooking -

Invest in a crock-pot.  Seriously.  A slow cooker saves us so much time and theyare so simple to use.  If we are worried about cooking meat before it spoils, we’ll slow cook it in the crock-pot, with a few vegetable and some seasonings.

Use the oven when electricity is cheaper.  Check with your power company and plan accordingly.  Ours offers a plan with less expensive electricity before 2pm and after 7pm.

Make compost.  We have a spring and summer garden – so we are always looking for scraps for our compost bin.  Rather than waste egg shells and apple skins, use them to create awesome soil for your garden!

save money in the kitchen

At the table -

Start with smaller portions.  We have kids.  Kids are picky.  Rather than give them a huge scoop of beans, we’ll start them out with just a few.  If they want more, they can have them.  If not, we can put them in the refrigerator and have leftovers the next day.

Make the kitchen-table an awesome place to be.

Share the clean-up responsibilities.  We clean up our kitchen as a family.  Our kids know how to wash dishes and put them away.

Skip the heated drying cycle.  Instead, dry dishes by hand.  If you have a small amount of dishes, skip the dishwasher and wash by hand.  (I’ve read conflicting articles about how much money is saved when washing by hand versus using the dishwasher.  We use ours for one load a day and always wait until it is full to run it.)

These simple tips for how to save money in the kitchen work for our family.  Our goal is to maintain an organized kitchen where we can enjoy good meals and good company.  Blessings.

Tweet about this on TwitterShare on FacebookShare on StumbleUponPin on Pinterest
Continue Reading

DIY Distressed Wood Mantel – Get The Rustic Look For Less

I am a huge fan of DIY projects – especially DIY projects that save me money.  Brian from the The Wildman Project youtube channel created this awesome DIY Distressed Wood Mantel and it looks great.

He was able to create the look of distressed wood, with just a few tools and some lumber from a big-box store.  Awesome.

If you are interested in tackling a similar project, I have included links and a materials list below the video.

Brian uses a belt sander in the video.  I don’t have one of those – so I used a random orbital sander.  I simply held it at a slight angle to the surface of the wood, to create the dips that you see in the video.  If you have the patience – sandpaper wrapped around a piece of scrap wood would work just fine.

You can pick up the boards for this project at your local big-box store.  The top and front are glued together with simple butt joints and the corners are mitered.  There are no nails or screws used – so they won’t get in the way of sanding.

Here’s a list of other items you might need to complete this project – including wood glue, stain, a sander, and a file.

This distressing process would work for creating a variety of DIY projects.  

I recently used this technique to build a simple picture frame.  It turned out great and I’m thinking about using this technique to add some character to a head board I’m building for our bedroom.  Also, this might be a great technique for building one of those very popular rustic kitchen tables.

You can view more of Brian’s work over at his website – The Wildman Project and the Wildman Project Etsy Shop.

If you are new to DIY and woodworking – I recently shared my list of inexpensive, budget friendly tools.

Check out my new DIY projects board over at pintrest.  Blessings.

 

Tweet about this on TwitterShare on FacebookShare on StumbleUponPin on Pinterest
Continue Reading

A Plan To Increase Our Savings Account Balance

At one time – after getting out of debt and before we purchased our new home – we had enough cash in our savings account for six months’ worth of expenses.  We dipped into our savings account when we purchased our home, to purchase new appliances and some furniture.

The time has come to rebuild our savings account balance.  We have created the following plan to increase our savings:

We set a goal.

Our goal is to stash six months’ worth of expenses in our savings account.  We took a look at our budget, removed any obvious unnecessary categories, and then used that amount to calculate our savings goal.

We created a time-table.

One year.  We have give ourselves one year to save up six months’ worth of expenses.  A note about expenses: We are focusing on essentials, plus a few wants.

We have automated a monthly deposit.

Our paychecks are deposited at the end of each month.  An automated withdrawal is then made to our online savings account.  This money comes out first, before any other payments or purchases.

automated savings no credit needed

We will examine our monthly bills.

We are pretty frugal – but there’s always room for improvement.  For instance – we recently realized we were eligible for an employee discount from our cellular provider.

We will use micro-deposits.

Like micro-payments helped us reduce our credit card debt, micro-deposits will help us build up our savings.  We’ll look for ways to save, throughout the week, and make extra deposits to our savings account on Fridays.

We will pause – for just a few months – our aggressive mortgage debt reduction.

I hate debt, and can’t wait until we have paid off our mortgage.  However, I think it’s important to rebuild our savings.  So, we’ll still send an extra, principal-only payment to our mortgage company, but micro-deposits will go towards savings.

We will sell some stuff.

It has been a few years since we had a large yard sale or eBay purge.  The time has come.  We’ll sell some stuff and use that money to increase our savings account balance.

We will shop around for a higher interest rate.

This is just a hunch – but I have a feeling that interest rates will go up next year.  If they do, we will transfer our savings, accordingly.

The past few years, we have adjusted to my new job and our new home.  2015 is shaping up to be an exciting year.  We are excited about rebuilding our savings account balance.  Blessings.

Tweet about this on TwitterShare on FacebookShare on StumbleUponPin on Pinterest
Continue Reading
View My Stats