Thursday, November 22, 2007

Happy Thanksgiving!

I love Thanksgiving. The food, the family, the get togethers. But the best thing about Thanksgiving is that it signals that my favorite holiday is around the corner. Christmas. I love everything about the holiday, presents, decorations, movies, the music. Especially the music!

Christmas also seems to be a holiday that many people go into debt for, and are paying in January and February the bills for Christmas. The bank I work at has noticed this trend and has added a wonderful tool to their website. Its a holiday budget. Zions Bank Holiday Gift Planner is a free service offered by the bank to help you budget for the holidays. Remember to include all holiday spending, including travel, food, wrapping paper, decorations, etc.

This year I'm in a much better place to provide a fun Christmas for my little family. But I don't want to go overboard, so this budget will help me stay on track. I've already purchased our big family gift, I just need to get smaller presents. And I also want to add a few things to my collection of Christmas decorations.

Happy Thanksgiving everyone and happy holiday shopping!

Friday, November 16, 2007


How did my budget go this month? Great! I think. As I have worked on following the budget, and tracking my spending, I have noticed one amazing and wonderful bank account balance has not come close to going below $100. If anyone knows me, you know that is an amazing feat. Just a couple months ago, I was going into the negative every month, hoping that a paycheck would go through before everything hit my account and bounced. And usually every month, for about 2 or 3 days before payday, my account was in the negative.

Here is what has really helped me. I always have two programs running on my computer, at all times. My internet browser, with one tab always dedicated to the bank's website, and my finance software, Ace Money Lite In the finance program, I have scheduled all of my bills, indicating which are paid every month and on what days, and also scheduled each paycheck, with an estimated amount. This gives me the option of viewing my finances 2 months ahead of schedule, having the bills scheduled let's me get all of the necessary expenses budgeted, and all I have to do is look at the ledger to decide what needs to be paid. So this is what it looks like today, starting with the paycheck, and then listing what bills will be paid with it, and then a running total balance. (and it looks much neater in the software program than it does on this page)

11/16/2007 Cristina Gerrard Wages and Salary:Net Pay 446.90 448.72
11/16/2007 Questar Gas Bills:Natural Gas 57.00 391.72
11/16/2007 Monticello 3rd Ward Donations:Tithing 45.00 346.72
11/16/2007 Grocery Cash Envelope Food:Groceries 80.00 266.72
11/16/2007 Gas Cash Envelope Automobile:Gasoline 20.00 246.72
11/16/2007 Emergency Savings Savings 100.00 146.72
11/16/2007 Devon's Repair Service Automobile:Maintenance 100.00 46.72

I love finance software, and since I can't quite justify paying $60 for one of the larger programs that can track more than just day to day spending, I'll use this handy free one until I need to track more accounts, like retirement and taxes, and investments. I've also found that just being able to track my regular checking account with this program, and not knowing what is in the savings account means that I just keep adding money to the savings account without being tempted to take it out to cover trivial expenses.

Remember they call it personal finance for a reason, its personal. What works for me, may not work for everyone, but I hope it can be a good place to start, sometimes we need another's example to inspire us.

Sunday, November 4, 2007

Cars, cars, cars

Cars. Status symbols? Containers to get you from point A to point B? Debt mongers. hmm.

The other day, a mechanic who worked on my car once, came into the bank. He asked how my car was running, I said its running great. He mentioned how much work had been done on it, and I agree it had a lot of things that needed to be replaced. And here's the kicker, he asked why I didn't get a new car, and since I work in a bank, I should be able to get a loan. Well, lets think about that for a second:

Current situation: 1984 Mercedes-Benz 300d Turbo

Purchased for $2300
Replaced:Battery $100
Replaced: Alternator $200
Replaced: Radiator $350
(changed mechanics)
Replaced: Water pump $200
Replaced: Alternator: Under warranty: $84
Oil change: $30 every six months
Insurance: $200 every six months

Total put into my used beater of a car in the year I've had her: $3694
I'm editing this post to add that according to The NADA guides on classic cars, my car is worth on the LOW end $4875. Not too bad. On the high end its $9750. So, in this instance, my net worth has gone up.

Hmm, now where would I be if I decided to buy a new car?

I'm going to guess that the new car is going to cost $12000
Assuming a 10% interest rate since my credit is crappy and a 72 month term. My monthly payment would be $222. Not too bad, I could probably afford that much a month, but in the end that brand new car in just loans is costing me $16006. And new cars are going to need to be maintained also. Oil changes, routine maintenance, not to mention that that car that is costing me $16006, is only worth about 9000 once I drive it off the lot. Ah, and insurance is going to go up on that shiny new car, I'll have to pay for full coverage. I'm estimating it will cost about $600 every six months to insure the new car.

So do I keep my used car and just keep up with the maintenance? Or do I sell it and go into debt for a new shiny car?

Friday, November 2, 2007


Today is payday, yay!! But as with all other paychecks, this one has been spent. I can check these off my budget for this month:

Phone/Internet/Satellite: Paid!
Devon's Repair: Paid!
Savings: Paid!

I will also use money from this check to put gas in my car. I had budgeted $30 for this check, but after looking over last month's gas usage, I think I am going to have to raise it to $50.

This is a short post, but I'm off to work! Time to make more money.