The Details

Posted by Cent With Love | 10:31 AM | , | 1 comments »

First, a huge thanks to MoneyFunk.Net for mentioning my need for evaluation on her blog and sending some very knowledgeable PF bloggers to offer advice. And a second huge thanks to everyone who took the time to comment with suggestions. I appreciate every bit of feedback.

I thought I would give a bit more detail on each of my goals for 2009 before adding any more.

1. Stick with my current envelope system.
Currently, I use the following system each week for my money. Please note that I do have a car payment and any house-related bill money is automatically deposited to a separate account where DH takes care of it*. Whatever is left over is what I use for my envelope system and to pay off my debts. Here's the breakdown:

Gas: $40 (use debit card for this since it's much easier with a toddler in tow)
Childcare: $80
Groceries: $40
Dining Out: $40
Personal Money: $70 - this is used for anything that I need or my daughter needs
Debt Snowball and Cell Phone: Anything that's left - usually $200 or more

If anyone wants, I can elaborate a bit on how I came to the above amounts and how I make them each work (such as the $40 for groceries for a family of 3).

*DH takes care of making sure our mortgage payments and any utilities are paid, for now. He takes care of any excess that my contribution doesn't cover. Each of our contributions is based on a % of our take-home pay. I have my own credit cards and debt from before we were married that are my responsibility. Until I have those properly taken care of, I will leave these items to DH. He does a pretty good job considering I'm 33, and we'll own our home in about 6 years.

2. Make $200 extra each month to put towards my debt snowball.
I definitely have a plan on how to make this extra money each month. Originally, I was thinking $100, but I think that would be easily achieved, so I upped the ante a bit, just to make it more interesting and challenging and, well, more rewarding. Also, I'm OK if I make $100 one month and $300 the next, as long as the yearly total is an avg. of receiving $200 per month in excess to put towards debt snowball payments.

Here's the scoop: Since I started trying to get a handle on my PF back in November, I've been trying out a bunch of different ways to make extra money. I am so happy that I stumbled upon She always has great advice on how to make a few extra $$, whether it be a rebate or bank deal or surveys or mystery shopping. These are all things that take a few minutes of time and return a small monetary bonus. Again, I believe all the small things add up.

My main focus for this money will be doing bank deals, special offers, and mystery shopping. I have already received $90 towards my January excess payments. How? I took advantage of the bonus that they were offering. Purchase a $1 stock plus a $4 trading fee, receive $50 back. So the net was $45. I did this for both myself and my daughter for a total of $90. Technically, that $45 should have gone to my daughter's bank account, but since I pay the bill for lots and lots of her extra stuff, I allowed myself to use it. Plus, in the end, when I'm debt free, it will allow me more freedom to fund her college savings.

In addition to the $90, I am expecting $120 in Mystery Shopping money this month. I spent about 3 hours making this money doing 7 bank shops. VERY easy money. I'm lucky that I have the type of job that I can sneak out on my lunch hour and do a little Mystery Shopping.

I also plan to sell off a bunch of the "junk" I have cluttering my life. I already sold $50 worth of books on and that was just 4 of the hundreds that I have. (so, if you're counting, I'm already planning on receiving $260 excess this month).

If I take advantage of all the deals and there's no MS available, I can always fall back on my graphic design skills and do a bit of freelance work. This is last resort, though. Since I do it all day long, I need a break from it. (disclaimer - you'd probably never know I was a graphic designer by the state of this blog. I plan to update it at some point).

And last, last resort would be to pull some money from my Personal Envelope.

So, that's the plan for number 2. If anyone has any feedback, I certainly welcome it.

3. Pay all credit cards and bills on time and avoid any additional fees.
Pretty self-explanatory. I have a spreadsheet that lists my debt snowball payments for each card, and I just use my allotted money each week. Very easy.

4. Increase credit score by 100 points.
My credit score is currently 603. Yikes (hides in embarrassment). I'm assuming goals #2 and #3 will have the greatest impact on achieving this goal; however, I'm not certain. I really need to do a bit more research on the best way to do this.

5. Maintain $1k Emergency Fund.
Again, self-explanatory.

6. Keep the debt snowball rolling and set a schedule for when each card should be paid off.
I'm working on this. I do have a debt snowball spreadsheet which gives a payoff date for each debt; however, by implementing goal #2, these dates will change. I would like to set a more aggressive goal for each, and I think this will give me something concrete to measure. So, this is in the works.

7. Be more organized/Type A when it comes to PF.
Another WIP. I'm much better than I was 3 months ago, but I need to fine-tune my excel sheets a bit. I also need to organize my receipts a bit better and get a little better at tracking exactly where I spend my extra money.

8. Use this blog as a motivational tool for myself and others to achieve financial freedom.
As long as I continue to write here and read others' blogs, I think this will be an easy one.

9. New Goal: Have a garage sale this spring!
This is a tough one for me. My family has too much stuff! And I have a very difficult time parting ways with this stuff - especially the baby toys and clothes. But I suppose I have to say goodbye to some and keep the special items.

10. Thinking of one more to make it an even 10 :)

Again, please send along any feedback, comments, suggestions. I'm open to anything :)


  1. Brett // January 2, 2009 at 1:16 PM  

    Here's another little goal for you: become a member at and use it to save a bundle on groceries every week. has ALL of the stores and ALL of the flyer deals every week. Make your shopping list based on best prices at your fave stores.
    And I'll apologize now for the way the grocery savings that are going to mess up your budget numbers. Could be worse, though, right? Better to be messed up by too much cash left over than too little.

    Happy New Year!