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    I think it’s important to check your credit report and credit scores at least once a year. By doing so, you’ll be able to ensure accuracy of the credit report and hopefully mitigate any potential fraud. Credit Sesame is a great company that helps you receive your credit score for free, as well as help you manage your debt better. Here’s how it works: -Sign up for a free Credit Sesame account. You will have to provide your social security number as well as some other identifying information. Credit Sesame uses Experian to pull your credit score. Credit Sesame uses the same safe encryption methods as financial institutions, so your information is safe. -Next, you’ll receive an analysis of your debt as collected from your credit report. They will evaluate whether or not you may be able to save money on interest rates, and if you’re receiving the best deals. Credit Sesame will comb through many different scenarios to come up with a solution that may better fit your needs. They take all the leg work out for you! Free [...]

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  • 07/25/11--03:40: Are CSAs Worth the Cost?
  • A few months ago we purchased a Groupon for a service that works similar to a community supported agriculture program (CSA).  I was excited because for $15 we would receive a box worth $35 that contained mostly local and organic produce.  The first time it arrived, we were excited to get into it and see what we got.  Right off the bat we noticed that the organic strawberries were all moldy and inedible.  I told Mr. Money to email them a picture explaining what we got and see what they would do about it.  They said they would credit our account $5 toward our next purchase.  As you probably guessed, I hadn’t planned on purchasing another box due to the cost and the fact that they sent us rotten strawberries. We decided we would give it another try, and in two weeks we were charged $30 for the box (they took the $5 credit off).  The box was much better this time, with no rotten produce.  However, I decided that for the price we could do much better if we [...]

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    The other day I was talking with a friend about how we pay so much each month for our mortgage payment, yet maybe 10% goes towards principal.  It’s frustrating, and often makes me dream of selling my house and being mortgage free.  Of course, then we’d have to pay rent and who knows if that would be better for us.  I told her how I had been paying extra on the principal to reduce the amount of interest we end up paying and to shorten the length of our mortgage.  She had some objections, and I listened to her while taking mental notes.  Here’s what she thought about us paying extra on the mortgage: -Because we don’t plan on staying in this house forever, she thought it would be in our best interests to stop paying extra on the mortgage and to start putting that money elsewhere.  Maybe a Roth IRA, investments, etc.  Over the long term, she thought it would be better if we invested the money over it being tied up in (maybe) equity in the house. -There’s [...]

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    Last Friday I logged into my employer’s human resources website to take a quick peek at my 401k balance.  I was just curious how much money I had in there.  I made a mental note of the balance, logged out, and went about my day.  Then this week happened and the economy and stock market decided to take a nose dive.  For the heck of it, I decided to log into the website again and check my balance.  It had gone down over $2,000 (which is a pretty nice percentage of the money that I have in it).  Whatever. Why am I not concerned?  First of all, I’ve got many years until I am going to retire.  I’m not going to touch that money for at least 30 years, so why get all worked up about it now?  Secondly, the stock market is going to go up and down- it’s just how it goes.  If I was one of those people who panicked and sold all my stocks I’d be losing a lot more than $2,000.  I’d lose the opportunity [...]

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    The other day we received our bill for our annual homeowners insurance premium.  I opened it up and was shocked that it was $110 more than last year, at $724.  I didn’t think that in one year the rate would go up that much!  I looked over the bill, and there is a blurb about inflation: “Inflation has increased construction cost by 3.00 percent.  Your coverage and premium have been increased accordingly.”  What? 3% of $615 (what the premium used to be) is only around $18.  So why did my premium go up over $100?  Annoying. We already have a $1000 deductible and I really don’t want to raise that.  I don’t know if I should shop around for homeowners insurance quotes, or if I should just stick with them because this is normal.  I have our cars insured with the company also, so we receive a discount for that.  I also like that the company that we’re with is a reputable company that I trust in case something happened.  It just makes me angry that our policy could go [...]

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  • 09/19/11--03:11: 7 Links Project
  • I was tagged by Little House in the Valley to take part in the “7 Links Project“. This project highlights 7 of my past posts that directly relate to the following 7 questions, sort of a “blast from the past” type project. Trip Base initiated this project with the intention of uniting bloggers and bringing to light old posts that may have not gotten as much attention due to the blog’s infancy at the time of posting. Without further adieu, I’ll address each of the 7 categories below. Your most popular post – My post about “No Poo” is by far my most popular post.  I am always receiving comments and questions on this post, and it never ceases to amaze me the number of people that give it a try!  No poo is basically a method of washing your hair without shampoo.  It saves you money, limits the chemicals that touch your body, and is interesting, as it bucks the “normal” method of hair washing. A post whose success surprised you –Where Have All the Housewives Gone? At 78 [...]

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  • 10/03/11--02:37: Baby Money
  • Some of you may have noticed my absence over the past few months.  It’s been a busy summer, and I’m so happy to announce that we are finally pregnant!  We are so thrilled, and I am looking forward to being a mama sometime in February.  The first trimester was really rough, but now that I’m past it, I’ve felt a lot better and much more confident.  I’ll start sharing more ideas on how we’re saving money throughout my pregnancy, what baby items we’re choosing, etc.  The next chapter of our lives is pretty exciting, so I hope you’ll stick around to enjoy!

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  • 10/21/11--03:41: Maternity Clothes Cheap
  • When I first learned I was pregnant, I decided that I would be ahead of the game and start looking for some fall/winter maternity clothes, since that’s when I would be pretty big.  I went with a friend to a few stores, including Motherhood Maternity, and scoped out prices.  Old Navy’s maternity line seemed to be pretty reasonably priced.  I learned that I loved all the clothes Motherhood Maternity offered, especially their petite pants.  They fit perfectly length-wise, and that never happens!  Unfortunately, they were also priced around $35 a pair, and holy cow. I couldn’t bring myself to pay $35 for a pair of pants.  Luckily, I waited and was able to come up with a pretty nice maternity wardrobe without spending a ton of money.  Here’s how I did it: -Went to yard sales.  When I went up to Michigan to tell my family I was pregnant, my mom and I hit up some yard sales.  She noticed one advertised on Craigslist to have maternity clothes, so we made sure to go there.  I got a pair of [...]

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  • 10/24/11--03:31: Budget Smackdown
  • On Friday night, Mr. Money and I sat down and went over our budget.  We’ve gotten a little lax over the past few months to say the least.  I totaled up our monthly spending for the month of August (since we weren’t on vacation at all that month) and it was pretty surprising.  After viewing the totals on some of the categories I wanted to throw up.  However, that isn’t really very productive, so we decided to be a little more strict with our budgeting and try to work a little more at staying in line.  It will help us reach our goals, and enable me to stay at home with the baby. Because I’m crazy, and I think it will help keep me accountable if I post the actual numbers of our variable expenses here, I’m going to do it.  Feel free to shame me if you want; I deserve it. Groceries, including household items= 371.76 Clothing (work shoes for Mr. Money)= 42.39 Gas= 298.20 Eating Out= 369.95 I wasn’t too surprised about the grocery category, because we try [...]

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  • 11/07/11--02:53: Minimalist Baby Registry
  • I think one of the hardest things about being a first time mom is trying to figure out what I need for this baby.  There are tons of baby gadgets out there, and the first time I went to Babies R Us I was totally overwhelmed.  All the items in the store made me feel like I needed every one of them!  My family is throwing me a baby shower, and my co workers were insisting that I register soon, so a couple weeks ago I went and registered at two places.  When people started viewing my registry, they commented that there weren’t enough items listed on there.  Personally I felt like I had too much listed!  I didn’t want to just add items just to have stuff on there, so I carefully went through and decided what items I’d really like to have. I wonder if I’m being too much of a minimalist.  I don’t want to be miserable and wish I had gotten a certain item and regret it later on.  I’m trying to find a delicate balance [...]

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    Having a baby can be an overwhelming experience, especially when you go into Babies R Us and are bombarded by all the millions of baby items they carry.  The first time I went in our local store, I almost had a panic attack.  There’s no way we can afford all of these things that we supposedly need for a baby!  Thankfully, after I left the store I sat down and thought about what a baby will actually need according to my standards.  I don’t want to have 50 baby things, or a million plastic made in China toys for my kid.  We sway to the side of minimalism, and while I know I won’t be able to limit everything that makes its way into my house, I can do my best to make sure I have things I need and use for the baby.  Here are some of the ways we’re going to save money on baby expenses: -Breastfeed.  I’m going to do my best to breastfeed, and I plan on doing everything in my power to make it to [...]

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  • 12/08/11--02:04: Fee Free IRAs
  • Mr. Money and I both have Roth IRAs with a brokerage account at the bank I currently work at.  Since they are in mutual funds, there is an annual fee for having the accounts.  Every year it’s been $15 since I’m an employee, and he’s my spouse.  Imagine my surprise when this year I received the bills and they were each $40! I almost had a heart attack.  I didn’t mind paying $15 a year, but $40 a year is way too much because the balances we have in those accounts doesn’t make up for it.  My account has around $400 (I put $500 in about 7 years ago and left it at that).  Mr. Money’s has more, which is good because he’s older. When I went to talk to the broker about it, he told me that the fee had gone up and they would try to get it waived for me.  However, if I wanted to close the accounts, there is a $75 fee.  Nice.  So not only would I be out the annual fee if they can’t [...]

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  • 12/26/11--02:08: Our Mail was Stolen
  • Yesterday morning I asked Mr. Money to go and get the mail, as we were expecting a card from his dad.  He went out to get the mail, said there was nothing in there, and not an hour later did we get a knock on the door.  It was one of our neighbors down the street, bringing us mail that had our address on it that he found in the ditch. Nice. He found a card that my aunt had mailed to us, ripped open, card and envelope in the ditch.  There was also an empty envelope from our bank.  Great.  I figured out that it was actually our credit card statement, completely missing.  I do feel better that it wasn’t a bank statement, as those have our full account number and other information on them. I called our credit card services company to cancel our cards.  She said we shouldn’t be too worried because the full account number is not on the statement, and if anyone tried to purchase anything online they would need the security code on the [...]

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    At the beginning of 2011, I set some financial and life goals for myself and Mr. Money. Here’s how 2011 played out for us: 1. Keep up with the clutter and declutter 365 items from our house this year. SUCCESS. I know I decluttered and donated a lot more than 365 items from our house this year. 2. Pay at least $3,000 down on the principal of our mortgage. FAIL. We did pay off $2679 off our mortgage prinicpal, so I think that’s pretty good!  Our extra money this year went to our savings account.  Honestly, I’m not too concerned with paying down our mortgage aggressively at this point.  We’ve got other priorities.  I do wish our mortgage balance was lower, but we can chip away at it. 3. Travel to somewhere fun and exciting.  SUCCESS? We took a trip to Colorado when I was around 20 weeks pregnant.  It was our last trip as just the two of us.  I really wish we had gone to Hawaii last year for our fifth anniversary, but I was a tightwad and [...]

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    Friday, January 6 is my last day of employment with the bank.  I’ve been an employee there for over seven years, and it’s been a really tough decision, but I’ve decided that I’m going to quit and be a stay at home mom.  I’ve always wanted to do that, so this is the path I’m going to take.  I can always return to work if I have to.  When considering being a working versus stay at home mom, I considered many factors. 1. If I kept working, I’d have to pay daycare.  Full time day care is expensive, costing anywhere from $600-$800 a month!  That would consume more than one of my paychecks.  Also, if my baby was in day care there’s a much greater chance of the baby getting sick and me having to take time off work.  That would stink! 2. I’d have to buy disposable diapers.  I plan on cloth diapering my baby to save money, and if I had to put my baby in day care, I’d have to buy disposables for the baby to use [...]

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    2012 is already here, and I’m a little behind on our financial and life goals.  I’m a little uncertain about what I should aim for, as we’re going to have a brand new baby and will have to adjust to the new expenses and life with a child.  My goals this year will be attainable (I hope!) and I am crossing my fingers for the best year ever.  It certainly will be interesting and a lot different than past years!  Here are some of the goals I’d like for us to accomplish: 1. Set up a savings account for the baby. The baby has not even been born yet and already has a stash of money.  I’m going to open a custodian savings account for the benefit of the baby.  I will also have to research 529 plans in case that’s the way we want to go.  I’m thinking it would be easier just to open the UTMA (Uniform Transfer to Minors) account and wait until the money accumulates and then go from there.  We’ll see. 2.  Figure out life [...]

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  • 01/09/12--03:10: Our 2012 Budget
  • For 2012, I wanted to come up with a more accurate budget, seeing that our baby would be born this year and hopefully we’ll be able to control our spending without worrying too much about it. I figured if I budget better, then I’ll hopefully be less stressed about where our money is going. Of course, I’ve also decided I’m not going to be so darn hard on myself because I’ll have a baby and have no clue how that’s going to impact our budget. If it costs us more money than I anticipated, then it does, and I’ll adjust our budget accordingly. Here’s our 2012 budget: Mortgage- $793.19 Escrow- $215.00 Energy- $150.00 Car insurance- $88.00 Verizon- $40.00 Cable, phone, internet- $125.00 Food- $350.00 Retirement- $100.00 House Stuff- $50.00 Gas- $200.00 Some notes: The mortgage is just principal and interest.  I used to round the payment up to $800 or so, until I found out that the extra money that I was paying was being applied to the next month’s payment!  Talk about annoying.  To make additional principal payments, I [...]

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  • 01/11/12--03:37: Gluten Free Pancake Recipe
  • One of my favorite breakfast foods is pancakes. Since going gluten free, I’ve had pancakes less often than usual. For awhile, we were buying Pamela’s Ultimate Baking and Pancake Mix but it got to be too expensive. I just couldn’t justify adding that into our food budget. I had to come up with some recipes that would be gluten free using items we normally had on hand. I have an awesome gluten free pancake recipe that has been tested and endorsed by those who are not even gluten free! Gluten Free Pancake Recipe (serves at least 2 people) -2 cups ground oats (you can use Bob’s Red Mill Gluten Free Oats for gluten free oats) -2 cups plain yogurt or full fat milk -2 eggs -2 Tablespoons melted butter or coconut oil -1/2 teaspoon of salt -1 teaspoon baking soda -1 Tablespoon of sugar 1.  Mix the ground oats and yogurt or milk. 2. Add the eggs, butter, salt, baking soda, and sugar.  I make sure to let this mixture sit for about 20 minutes so the baking soda will [...]

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  • 02/07/12--10:41: Welcome, Baby Money!
  • I had my baby on January 22, 2012!  She was born at home and weighed 6 pounds even and was 19 inches long.  She came a lot earlier than I ever expected (I thought I would have her today!)  Life has been great lately, but more busy!  I can’t believe how much laundry a little person can help create.  We are so in love and couldn’t be happier.  I’m trying to think of a good nickname for her for the blog and the only thing I’ve come up with so far is Penny! I can see how our money is going to change as a result of the baby- I think our electric bill will be higher because of us both being home and keeping the house warmer for her and also because of the amount of laundry I’ve been doing.  I also know that my gas usage has gone down since I haven’t really left the house too much yet, and that probably won’t change too much.  I’m sure I’ll start going places, but it won’t be as much [...]

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  • 02/28/12--07:11: Life With a Baby
  • So far, I love being a mom.  I love taking care of my baby and doing as much housework as I can.  It’s been tough to get much done around the house because someone doesn’t like to be put down much.  She’s getting much better at it lately!  Here are some things I’ve observed since becoming a mama: -Sometimes convenience is key.  We’ve done a lot of things that we wouldn’t normally do convenience-wise since we’ve had the baby.  We’ve gotten take out a few times when Mr. Money wasn’t in the mood to cook.  I’m not stressing about it, because we have a brand new baby and it’s not been excessive.  Sometimes you just have to be flexible! -Some of my frugal ways are harder to execute with a little one.  Hanging laundry to dry and doing dishes by hand are just two examples I can think of right now.  It’s much easier for me to throw the clothes in the drier and run the dishwasher, so that’s what we’ve been doing!  I figure as long as we have [...]

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