Sunday, February 28, 2010

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Friday, February 26, 2010

Fit in a Fun Friday - Curling...Yes, Curling

My husband has recently thrown himself into Curling. Yes, that's right...Houston man...not much sport...I do see the funny. :-)

For those of you that have not been introduced to this sport, IMHO it's a little like shuffleboard on ice. It requires a lot more coordination and heavy breathing than shuffleboard, but that's the gist on how you score. Here's a more thorough and accurate explanation of the game.

Since my husband was so interested, we found a Curling league in our area and attended a class last weekend. After much cussing, knee bruising, and numb fingers, I realized this was not an activity for me.

On the other hand, my husband was smitten. Think kid in a candy shop - that was my husband after 2 hours of practice. He'll be returning to this painful super fun league this weekend to join up.

On the financial side of this new hobby, he'll be looking at weekly league dues and some equipment costs like shoes ($30-$200 depending on quality and brand) and a Curling broom ($20-$50). 

Thankfully, the league supplies the granite stones that are slid across the ice. They will also let him borrow the basic supplies in the beginning until he's sure this will be long-term.  :-)

Like a bowling league, Curling has 8-12 week leagues that meet once a week. Hubby will be looking at $10-$15 a week depending on the league and he'll probably participate in at least two or three leagues a year.

That's a maximum of $540 a year plus the one-time equipment costs.  Not so bad for a physical activity that he enjoys.

Do you think Curling may be for you? If so, we found the league in our area at the USA Curling site.  You could also try using Google Maps, calling the ice rinks in your area, or searching further online.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Our Wedding - Frugal and SOOO Fun!

I was reading one of my favorite blogs today, FMF, and saw this post.  All of the comments were interesting, but the ones specifically about the cost of the engagement ring and wedding brought me to this post.

I met my hubby during our freshman year of college.  I was bored during a midnight shift on the 24 hour help desk at our dorm and he kept walking past.  By his third pass, I asked him to keep me company and didn't find out for years that he was hoping I'd want company...that still makes me smile!

He proposed less than a year later with the ring I picked out (with him of course) - white gold with a diamond chip for $125.  I love that ring.  We got married 3 years later on a gorgeous early-summer day.  It was an awesome day!  Even though the ceremony had to start a little late, my hubby was waiting patiently at the end of the aisle with a huge grin on his face.  I happily cried through at least half of the thing, we had a great reception, and then we hung out in our miniature apartment with our closest friends until 3am.  We opened gifts, wrote down the info for thank you cards, laughed alot, and just generally hung out.  Ahhh...memories.  :-)

Best of all (to the cheap side of me), the whole thing cost about $3000.  Here's how it worked out:
  • Apparel: $300 ($125 gorgeous David’s Bridal special, a $150 tux with tails and accessories rental, and my mom spent $25 on all the materials to make my 5 foot long veil…it was amazing and decorated with shinies and fake pearls…the patterns were awesome against the back of my dress and went great with the train)
  • Rings: $250 ($250 for hubby’s band and my bands are from his mother)
  • Music: $0 (my mother set up a sound system with CD’s)
  • Miscellaneous: $500 (reception decorations and the fake flowers used for bouquets and decorations)
  • Ceremony Site and Officiant: $250 ($150 for chapel and organist and $100 for the preacher)
  • Flowers: $50 (the roses that my youngest sister handed out as the flower girl were from Sam's Club)
  • Cake: $125 (3 tier Kroger's cake decorated with our light blue wedding color)
  • Reception/Catering: $500-$800 (reception hall for 60 guests and linens were $125, my mother bought trays from Sam’s Club of shrimp, vegetables, meat, and fruit, my MIL baked and decorated an awesome groom’s cake, and my aunt-in-law and my MIL decorated the tables with glitter and little reception souvenirs)
  • Photography: $500 (he was fantastic, stayed until we left, and took over 400 photos)
  • Videography: $0 (But please get one…this is my only regret)
  • Invitations: $100
If we could do it all over again, it would be exactly the same except we'd hire a videographer and I'd try not to cry through the whole last darn part.  What can I say, I'm a girly girl when it comes to emotional stuff...

Do you have any wedding tips?  Any great deals we missed?  Come on people, someday a soon-to-be-married person is going to be looking this over and wishing everybody had replied (I know that's how I feel when I find an interesting old blog).  :-)  Thanks!

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Posting Schedule

Quick note to my wonderful readers, I post an article, guest post, or a link to a BFS guest post at least once a day Monday-Friday at 6am CST with extra ideas and info thrown in as it pops up.

"Fit in a Fun Friday" is a different fun item reviewed every Friday. The majority of these will be a luxury expense that we either already splurge on or have plans to splurge on in the future. Some will be frugal, others will not, but all could lead to a good time. :-)

I also post a Weekly Favorites and Gratitude list every Saturday morning and a Yakezie Alexa Ranking update every Sunday morning.

If you ever have any questions, comments, suggestions, guest posts, or questions you'd like me to post for our readers, please feel free to email me at budgetingfunstuff *at* gmail *dot* com anytime!

Our Monthly Budget

To lay the last bit of our financial foundation, I wanted to share our monthly budget.  Our exact expenses change a little month-to-month, but this is the basic picture of our spending:
  • Mortgage - $900
  • Emergency Fund - $500
  • Tax Account - $400
  • Home Account - $350
  • Roth IRA - $300
  • Vacation Account - $250
  • Cash - $200
  • Extra Roth IRA - $120
  • Extra Masters Money - $125
  • Car Payment - $330
  • Car Insurance - $110
  • Gasoline - $150
  • Electricity - $150
  • Cable & Internet - $100
  • Cell Phones - $80
  • Water - $30
  • Garbage - $20
  • Groceries - $300
  • Fast Food/Restaurants - $200
  • Misc Bills/Car Maintenance - $200
  • Entertainment/Misc Fun ($75 each and $100 joint) - $250
  • Medical - $100
  • Maid Service (biweekly $45) - $100
  • Lawn Service (biweekly 8 months a year) - $50
  • Netflix - $20
  • Pet Expenses - $100
  • Massage Envy - $50
  • Total = $5485
That comes to $65,820 a year.  We make $78,000 before taxes plus the $4000 a year my hubby makes as a sports official.  Taxes, the pension, the 401k, and our benefits account for the other $16,180.

Needless to say, I am anal enough to keep up with every single expenditure.  Unplanned expenses are taken from the appropriate target accounts.  Also, before anyone asks, I contribute considerable time to my charities and we both use some of our "fun" money for the charities of our choosing.

I didn't start this blog to brag.  This is to show that a teacher and an office worker can use their money as a considerable tool to build wealth in less than 5 years.  By spending less than you earn and saving the rest, you can create wealth.  All of my favorite blogs boil down to that basic idea, yet people question it's possibility.  Saving is's even fun.  I never worry about making our next mortgage payment or having enough to pay our bills.  That is priceless to me.  :-)

Would a budget like this help you?

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

How We Chose to Budget in the Fun Stuff

As my last post explained, we do make it a priority to have fun now while saving for our future.  My husband and I actually went back and forth on this for a couple of years since I felt we should save everything we possibly could, but he thought we should be able to live a little too. 

He was right, but we had to find a way that could make us both happy.  He asked me what I was worried about, and I realized that I just wanted all our bases covered.  I wasn't pissed that we spent money, I was worried we weren't saving enough.

We started a plan that would make us both happy.

We sat down one Saturday evening and wrote out our big life goals.  We then broke those into financial goals that could be achieved with our combined $78,000 income before taxes.  We set target amounts for each goal.  That sheet looked something like this in a couple of hours:


  • Mortgage - Continue overpaying $160 a month.
  • Tax and Insurance Account - $400 a month since we don't escrow and this would cover taxes, homeowner's insurance, and our CPA.
  • 401k - Continue contributing 6% of my salary (maximum that is matched).
  • Roth IRA - Continue funding $5000 a year ($300 monthly and the other $1400 whenever the market looks good).
  • Emergency Fund - $30,000 (full year) starting with the $10,000 we had plus an additonal $500 a month.
  • Home Maintenance and Auto Account - $200 a month (my last car payment) plus our $3000 seed money.
  • Scottrade Account - $2500 a year whenever the market looks best.
  • Vacation Account - $250 a month so we can take one or two of our normal vacations.

By covering those targets, I felt secure and we figured out what to do with our remaining money.  Check back tomorrow for our full spending breakdown.

What would make you feel secure?  If you have a partner, have you planned long-term with them?  Has a financial realization ever smacked you upside the head?

Monday, February 22, 2010

General Steps to Financial Stability

Before I start posting specific spending scenarios, I wanted to post a general idea of how you could cover your basic financial bases.  Please disregard if you are beyond this of course.  These are the steps we use:

1. Create a budget after monitoring your spending and income for a month.  This will need to be updated with forgotten items as you go.

2. Pay all necessary bills.

3. Set up an emergency fund for at least 3 months (see below for the rest).

4. Maximum matching to your 401k.

5. Max out at least one Roth IRA.

6. Add small "fun" money allowances into the budget.  This is important to keep yourselves on track.  Without a little "fun" money breathing room, you'll catch yourselves splurging more often...this could slow down your progress quite a bit.

7. Overpay your mortgage to at least the nearest $100. We overpay to the $100 after that for a total of an extra $160 a month. Continual extra principal payments will save you thousands in interest.

8. Hit your specific goals - In our case, we put money aside for my husband’s graduate classes, extra into our emergency fund since we want it to be large enough to cover at least 9 months, a set amount aside for stocks, and we put a small amount into our vacation account for annual trips and large "fun" purchases.

9. Open another Roth IRA...we'll be doing this with the unneeded graduate school money this year.

10. Pay down your mortgage or save for future investments.

Even if you can't hit all these steps at one time, simply make it as far as you'll be surprised how fast you'll start building actual wealth. 

We are currently on Step 8 although we are on track to hit all ten steps this year.  I will keep you updated as we go.  :-)

Do you see anything missing above?  What kind of system do you use?

Sunday, February 21, 2010

January 2010 Net Worth

I wanted to use this blog to be as open as possible with our finances and to create a lasting record.  With that in mind, I'll start off by posting our current net worth.

We calculate our net worth as listed below.  We don't include the value of our possessions, we round down to the nearest hundred for assets, and we round up to the nearest hundred for liabilities.

1. Cash - $21,000
2. Stocks - $11,700
3. Retirement - $31,400
4. Home - $130,000
5. Cars - $17,000

1. Home - $74,400
2. Car - $12,000

Total Net Worth = $124,700

I base the value of our home on two things: comparables selling in our neighborhood and the estimated appraisal by Chase Home Value Estimator.  I will always estimate low.

I base the value of our cars on Kelley Blue Book's Private Party Value of our vehicles in "Good" condition truncated down to the nearest $1000.  For example, if my car is valued at $4600, I'd calculate that as $4000.

How is your net worth coming?  Anything you're trying to change?

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Welcome to Budgeting in the Fun Stuff

I'm a personal finance blog addict. It's really a problem. I've decided to make it worse. :-)

Welcome to Budgeting in the Fun Stuff!

This is a personal finance blog about balance. Everyone knows they should live below their means. Everyone knows they should save for their future. I've seen this as the basis for most of the personal finance blogs I read and love. Both points are totally true.

This blog will cover a third point...what can you do with the rest?

I will open up our finances for your perusal...real numbers and everything. It should be fun.

My husband and I use our money to pay for our current needs, to save for our future needs, and to have some fun as we prioritize our discretionary spending.

Thanks for taking a look!