Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Budget Battles Part 2

I realized after posting yesterday that I didn't really explain what my budget plan was. So for those of you who are interested this is how I figured things out to make my life easier.

Using ibank I can keep track of all of my accounts (checking, savings, term deposits, and even credit cards). It is really fantastic because I can download all the info right from my bank or the credit card company. All I have to do is categorize each transaction and that takes less than 5 minutes. I have set up a monthly budget in ibank and so it easily generates reports on how we are doing each month. I can check to see how close we are to our budget limits as the month progresses. Unfortunately ibank doesn't run all the reports I would like it to, so that is were Excel comes in.

I have created two spreadsheets in Excel one for the General Budget and one for Savings.

The General Budget is as follows:
First a list of our income and the budgeted amount that we should receive.
Second our standard expenses. These are expenses that we know we will have every month (gas for cars, insurance, tithing, fast offerings, groceries, mortgage, HOA fee, and all of our utilities). Most of these we have set up through automatic bill pay so the just happen every month. They are also very predictable expenses so we have a budgeted amount for them too.
Third I have our other expenses. This is the tricky part. There are so many things that we spend money on that are not predictable. Do you budget money out as a yearly value or what? So I have included all other categories of expenses that I had set up in ibank that are not included in the standard expenses. Then I took our income minus our standard expenses and savings and that is how much other expenses gets each month. There are not budgeted amounts for each individual category, just one clump sum for the whole "other expenses" category.
The last part on the spreadsheet is savings. We have set up little savings accounts to save up for stuff (yes, very profound). These accounts included "fun money" for Devin and I so he can buy camera stuff or whatever and I can do whatever fun I want to do with my fun money. There are other accounts such as: House, for any home improvements or repairs. Vacation, because we would like to go on a real one someday. Anna, we figured we should save some money for her. Family, for any family expenses or things for the whole family. Gifts, stuff like birthdays and Christmas. Auto, for any auto expenses registration, etc. We have set up a small savings amount for each of these groups. That way we get in the habit of saving each month and then we also can save up for things that we want to buy.
Then using Excel's ability to add and subtract different parts of the spreadsheet I can enter the totals for the month that I just pull from ibank (yeah for cut and paste!). Then Excel will show the positive or negative difference for each of my groups. At the very bottom of the spreadsheet there is a spot for Total Income and Total Expenses and the difference positive or negative. If we have a positive difference that money is thrown into a general savings account. If there is a negative difference that amount is pulled form our general savings account to help us keep a standard balance. Are you confused yet??????? It makes more sense on paper.

Our Savings spreadsheet is really simple. It is just a list of all of our savings accounts and term deposits and how much money goes in and out each month. Just so we can have a record of how things are there.

Now before you think, "Who has time to keep up something like that???" It really is so easy. ibank does so much and I just cut and paste everything into Excel. Yes it took a bit of time yesterday to set everything up, but now it is set up it won't take that much time at all to keep up.

I hope that makes sense and answers some questions. I figured it would be better to post an additional bit on this than to try and leave all of that in the comment box. If you want any more info on this let me know. Everyone does stuff different. I've gotten lots of great ideas for tons of people. I hope you all can find something that works for you so you can win the budget battle.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

I Finally Got It!

Some people like to spend money, others like to save it. I have always been a saver. I would rather have a stack of money in my savings account than a bunch of cute shoes in my closet any day. I love balancing my check book and creating and following a budget. I really don't like shopping that much because I always feel so guilty when I spend money, even if it is for something really important and completely necessary. I watch people spend and spend their money without a care in the world and I wonder, "How on earth can they do that?" "How can they sleep at night?" Not to mention those who have absolutely no control and with the use of credit cards spend way more than they could ever think about making. It just doesn't make sense to spend more than you make. What every happened to "living within your means?"

Anyway, for the last three months I have been fighting a budget battle. When we first got married Devin and I decided to create a budget and live off of his salary and save all of mine. That way when I quit working it wouldn't be too much of a shock. Well it still has been a shock. We always had that bumper of my salary. Now we are really on a fixed income without any bumpers. And as much as we joke around that we would rather live on Ramen so I could stay home with our little girl, I'd like to not feel like we are completely in the poor house. There had to be a way that we could use our money wisely and still be able to live comfortably and not be on "financial pins and needles" all the time. Since June I have been working and working to find places where we could save money so we could "live within our means." I am happy to report today that I think I have finally figured it out. Thanks to iBank and Excel Spreadsheets I think I have finally found the perfect way of managing our money. I cannot express in words how nice it feels to finally be at peace with the budget. I've even figured out how we can continue to save money each month so that our savings will continue to grow for those rainy days that come quite often. I'm such a nerd! I had so much fun today looking at the data and comparing monthly totals and all of the different spending trends. I even e-mailed the spreadsheets to Devin at work today because I was so excited about it.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Mahon and Cindy's Wedding

Friday Devin's little brother Mahon got married.  We were all way excited for him.  Cindy is a great girl and they are absolutly perfect for each other.  It ended up being one of the those crazy fun days as we tried to do all we could to have things run smoothly.  I didn't end up getting any pictures of them, but I know there were tons of people there taking pictures, so when someone shares their pictures with me I'll post some. 
We had a great time doing all sorts of things to help out.  At one point we were joking around that we should start a wedding business.  Between this wedding and others, we feel like we have done just about everything that is needed for a wedding.  My favorite funny job with this wedding was getting a whole bunch of balloons and marking the path from the road to the garden area where they had their reception.  We had lots of fun.  Devin kept joking that I was going to float away. 

Education Week

My Grandma Beth was an amazing woman.  She always did very "classy" things.  She was the type that went often to the opera, symphony, and theater.  She traveled the world and went to amazing places like China, Africa, and Europe.  She was one who never wasted her time with trival things.  All growing up I would look forward to my grandma coming to our house to stay when BYU had Education Week.   I have very fond memories of sitting at the kitchen table with my grandma and eating raspberries in milk and hearing all about the amazing classes she had gone to and all of the cool things she was learning.  She would get so excited and we loved listening to her.  I knew Education Week was something really important, because she wouldn't spend a week attending it if it wasn't.
I've never been able to go to Education Week because it is always the same week that school starts.  But this year I could go.  The only thing that was in my way schedule wise was Devin's brother's wedding.  But that was Friday and I figured I could go for at least part of the week.  My mom and I went together.  We had such a good time.  It was everything I ever thought it would be.  The only way I could describe it is EFY for adults.  It was like drinking from a spiritual fire hose...nothing is better.  (Well, I wish Devin could have come, that would have made it better.)
I am grateful for all the amazing things that I learned.  One of the best parts was in one of our classes they showed us the bran new Nursery Manual.  IT IS AMAZING!!!  The guy who taught the class who works for the church curriculum department said that it is as important to have and use this manual in our homes as Preach My Gospel is.  After flipping through it and reading it a bunch, my mom and I totally agree.  We both ran out and bought one, it is so fantastic!
The week was wonderful!  We were going to leave on Thrusday for the wedding at 4 o'clock, but I just couldn't stand missing the great classes, so Devin let me stay until 6pm.  It was well worth getting to Idaho later. 
If you ever have the chance to go to Education Week I would highly recomend it!  Elder Hale's devotional from Tuesday alone was just wonderful!
Anyway, Yeah! for Ecuation Week!  Yeah! for being life-long learners!

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Blue Ribbons

Are you ever afraid to try something because you might fail? I could list a whole bunch of things that I would love to try but fear of failure keeps me from doing them. Devin on the other hand is pretty much fearless. He doesn't let the fear of failure keep him from trying. This last week he did one of those things that I would be scared to death to do, he entered three of his pictures into the county fair. I was so proud of him! He loves to take pictures not because he is the best at it, but because he just loves doing it. I am happy to announce that Devin got two first place blue ribbons and one red second place ribbon. WAY TO GO!!!! Way to be brave and try!
We had a fun time Friday night going to the fair to see all the displays and stuff. I love the fun fair atmosphere. I can't wait until the State Fair! We were so amazed at the different stuff that people entered into the fair. Some of the stuff is so beautiful and other things are just down right strange. As we walked through all the baking stuff I couldn't help but think that my mom would kick trash if she ever entered any of her cookies. One of our favorite displays was the gigantic Lego display. It was HUGE! It had a bunch of trains that went around it. I was just blown away by the detail. I think that is what is so much fun about the fair. The fair is a chance for everyone to share their talents. Even if they are not the best at them, they still get the chance to show off something that they are proud of that they did.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

5 Fantanstic Years

When I was a Sophomore at BYU my roommates and I would go every Friday afternoon to the Mount Timpanogos temple to do baptisms. Back then gas prices where a lot cheaper and for one reason or another, we decided to drive out to American Fork to go to the temple each week, rather than going to the Provo temple which was less than 5 minutes from our appartment. I went every Friday afternoon for over a year until I left on my mission. The temple became my home away from home. I loved the workers, they became some of my best friends. My week was not complete without going to the temple.
After being "temple starved" for 18 months on my mission the very first thing I did when I got home was go to the temple. I must have been released as a missionary first because I went by myself to "my temple." I just wasn't completely home until I went there. It was SO good to be back! For the next two years I went as often as I could. I remember one sister worker asking me, "Why don't you work here? You might as well since you are here all the time." That was a while ago and "young" temple workers were very rare. I was also busy with school and had the sinking feeling that it would be difficult to fit that in with school and my current calling as Relief Society President. I remember talking Brother Hepler, a member of the bishopric who worked at the temple, about how great I thought it would be to work at the temple. We both agreed that there was probably too much on my plate at the moment, but that I should still keep going as often as possible.
In the Spring of 2003 I got my first teaching job and some girls from the singles ward and I decided to move out together. And so I was released from my busy calling. The last Sunday in the ward Brother Hepler pulled me aside and said, "I have a present for you. I just submitted your name to become an Ordinance Worker at the temple." He let me know that it might take a while, but to wait and see.
So, in May 2003 I was called and set apart as an Ordinance Worker at the Mount Timpanogos temple. It was a dream come true! Truly my hearts desire. I was one of the first "young" temple workers. It always made me smile when cute old people would come up and make some comment about how I looked like I was 12.
Over the past 5 years the temple has become more of a home than I ever thought possible. The people I work with are more than close friends, they are family. I have had so many experiences there that have strengthened my testimony and that have completely changed my life!
Unfortunately this last Thursday night was my last night working at the temple. Being pregnant makes it a little bit trickier to work the 6 hour shift. And if you thought I got some weird looks just as a really young worker, you can only imagine the distraction of a "great with child" temple worker. So Thursday was it. I didn't cry, though I felt like it all night. I never cry when I think it is appropriate! It has been the best 5 years! I am so grateful that Devin was able to join me working there for the last year and a half. Nothing is better than being there, with him, every week, for 6+ hours. As much as I love teaching, I don't think I feel quite the void from leaving that as I do from leaving the temple. I am grateful I can still go as often as I would like. I know when out little girl comes temple attendance will slow down dramatically. But I won't stay away too long, only as long as I have to. I told my friends on the Thursday night shift that I wasn't quitting working at the temple, I was just going on about a 25 year leave of absence. I'll be back, just you wait and see.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

The Garage

What do you do in your garage? When we got married we gave "names" to each of the rooms in our house. There was the master bedroom, the office, Scott's room, and the garage. (Scott was Devin's old roommate and well...we didn't have anything special to put in there so it just was still Scott's room.) The garage was probably my least favorite room of the house. It looked like a garage, or probably worse! As you know I have been working this summer to clean our house up. I've actually been done with this room for a while but I just finished the window seat and curtains today. Nothing fancy at all, but I can now say that this is probably my favorite room in the house. We still call it the garage, but I love spending time there. I can read in my cute little window seat. There is TONS of room to spread out my fun sewing projects. We even got a fan so that I can keep the room nice and cool. I have to laugh that I sew and read in my garage. That's probably not what most people do.
I have included the official before and after pictures. Enjoy!