Tag: Financial Diary

March 2011 Highlight Reel

In March, there were memories to preserve:

  • My granddaughter turned 5 this month! Even though I were not there to help celebrate, I did get to spend time with her on Skype several times over the month.
  • My youngest son turned 21 this month! I am very proud of him. I know he reads this blog, so, “I love you, Charles, and am very proud of the young man you have become!”
  • For the recluse that I am, I had a lot of social interaction this month. We had friends over early in the month for chili and games (we played the card game Fluxx and then some Wii Mario Kart). I met with a cousin for lunch in Tombstone one day and then met with another cousin for a visit to the Tucson Botanical Gardens. Fun times.
  • I had my first visit to a Butterfly Exhibit and I want to go again!

In March, there were things that deserved editing:

  • This month we experienced continued employment concerns and I have found it more difficult to remain calm in the face of such uncertainty.  Thankfully Bill and I seem to be (mostly) on the same page with this concern, so we’ll get through it.  We should know by next month’s Recap just what we will be doing for the future.

In March, there were the moments that hold our lives together:

  • More dental work for me (I’m almost done, except it’ll soon be time for a cleaning again!).
  • Clogging class and square dancing on Friday nights.
  • Evening walks where Bill and I talk over our day and get some fresh air, sunshine and exercise.

In March, there were mountains climbed:

  • I discovered in mid-March, through an exercise on The Dao of Doing, the power of the right affirmation.  I tried to create an affirmation that would help me tackle Quicken and empower me to keep it up to date, but the more I focused on the specific task (accounting), the more discouraged I got.  Finally I stumbled across this affirmation on Chellie Cambell’s Financial Stress Reduction blog:  “ I am full of Joyful Energy!”  The more I repeat that affirmation, the happier I am and the more energy I have.  It really is what got my butt in gear during the last two weeks of March in so many areas of my life, but most particularly with the accounting/bookkeeping stuff that I usually dread (hate) doing.
  • Quicken is up to date, as of March 31st!  Doing our taxes is next, but that will take only a matter of a couple of hours, now that Quicken is current.
  • In addition to Quicken being up to date, my Financial Diary is also current.  In the process of getting my Financial diary up to date, I’ve realized how much I really like having this system of keeping our financial life organized.  So much so that I am going to set up a website to “share” my system; I know it has made my life easier and I’m sure others will benefit from my experience.
  • I have been able to keep my desk mostly clear of junk.  I process the previous days mail each morning, have kept a very clear spot to the right for the laptop (so I can Skype) and have only one small pile of papers to deal with on the left side of the desk.  Even Bill remarked earlier this week about how clean I was keeping my desk!
  • Bill and I started up again with the South Beach Diet.  In two and a half weeks he has lost 10 pounds and I’ve lost 6, but then I’ve not been quite so strict following the diet as he has.
  • Thirty-six posts here in March!  I’ve had so much fun with the Mommytography’s 365 Project.

In March, there were pitfalls to overcome:

  • Only two posts for the LeapingFromTheBox.com blog and no updates done to the main website.  This is going to be where I concentrate efforts in April (provided I don’t have to spend most of my time in the job hunt process).
  • Guitar practice has not been done at all.  Each month I remind myself to begin again with it, and then the month flies by and I realize I have not picked it up even once.  I think, with the stress of the job situation and possible move,  that I am going to let this one go for a while and try again another time.

My favorite picture this month wasn’t even taken by me! Here’s Munchkin with birthday cake frosting on her nose! This picture has been my desktop background all month!

Munchkin

March Updates

March has been an interesting month. I have finally quite procrastinating and made serious progress in updating my Quicken accounts. I also have been using this time to go through my financial diary and update all the changed accounts there. I put together this Financial Diary in early 2009 and it has been a life saver. Every bank account, savings account, expense account, subscription, rental agreement, life insurance policy, car registration information, medical information, prescription copies and so on are all kept in one very large notebook. Having all that information in one place makes life so much easier if you have a dispute with a company or if you want to upgrade a service or change to another provider. It especially wonderful to have readily available whenever you move, as all the contact information you might need for almost any financial event is contained within. Everyone in the house knows that if there is ever a fire, the one thing to grab is that notebook! The goal is to keep this current as things change, but usually what happens is I do a massive update once a year when I’m updating Quicken and preparing for taxes. I do hope that 2011 will be the year that I keep both Quicken and my Financial Diary current all year long!

financial diary

Another project coming along very nicely, sort of, is the afghan I planned to make for my nephew Daniel for his high school graduation gift. I absolutely love the way it is coming together, but there are two small problems. One, I didn’t order enough yarn. I wanted to make the afghan about twice the size stated on the pattern, which makes 9 of the granny square blocks. So I ordered double the yarn. I’m now almost out of yarn and am just finishing the 9th block. Clearly I will have to order more yarn if I wish to make it any bigger. I am going to lay the blocks all out on my bed and see how large the afghan will be if I join just those 9 blocks, but I think I will need to order more yarn anyway just to join them all together. The second problem is that, while I love the color combination, it is clearly not suitable for my nephew. The colors are much too feminine. David is helping me choose the colors for Daniel’s afghan; David took a color theory class in college and seems more confident in his color combining abilities. Hopefully we can get figured out what colors to order and I can make one massive yarn order!

Earlier this week I had a chance to visit with a cousin that I have not seen since she was a toddler, which was quite a few years ago. She was out this way and sent me a Facebook message to see if we could meet. So we met Tuesday in Tombstone for lunch and had a nice visit. That is THE thing I like most about Facebook, the ability to connect with friends and relatives from afar that you might not ever hear from otherwise. Here’s a picture of myself and my cousin, Darcie Shipman, which David took.

Karen Gibson and Darcie Shipman

Our cat Copper gave us quite a scare Monday night. One of her favorite places to be is on top of the back of the couch. She perches there to watch the birds out the window and sleeps there a good deal of the time. Monday night was a windy, cool night and fixing to rain. We had the sliding glass door in the living room open about a foot to let the cool air in, with the screen door pulled shut so the cat wouldn’t go out. Shortly after 8 p.m., Copper suddenly launched herself from the back of the couch, across the room, hit the bottom of the screen door, popped it out of its rails, and disappeared into the night. We went outside and called for her, walked around the block calling (and finding three other cats, but not Copper!), and finally just set the cat carrier outside with some cat food in it, hoping she’d come back in the night and crawl in for the food. David checked for her one last time around 1 a.m. before he went to bed and there she was, hunched up on the patio, wet from the rain and wanting to get back inside. We don’t know where she went or why, but we were glad she came back.

David had another job interview this past Tuesday. We had thought he wouldn’t have any job opportunities as long as the government hiring freeze was in place, but then he got a call on Monday to come interview on Tuesday. So maybe he will get a job here after all! He would really like to stay here even if we end up moving somewhere else for another job for Bill. But he’s going to need to work a few months in order to save up enough for security deposit on an apartment and a down payment on a car. Hopefully it will all fall into place, or not!

2010 Recap – Personal Finance Goals

When we were first married over 31 years ago, keeping track of our personal finances was very simple. One bank account, two people, one income and relatively few expenditures; our financial life fit easily on a single ledger sheet. Unfortunately, those days are long gone. Three children, three decades, and three moves later things are much more complicated. We have bank accounts in four states, ongoing expenses in three states, and a single ledger sheet will no longer suffice. Sometime in the mid1990s I learned how to use a spreadsheet and since then, I have used them as my main accounting tool. A spreadsheet works great as a check book ledger, but it is not so great when trying to tally up accounts at the end of year and come up with all the numbers needed for taxes.

For several years organizing our personal finance tracking has been an ongoing goal. I still use the spreadsheet as a check ledger, but I have been sporadically using Quicken also. Last February I actually finished inputting all of 2008’s numbers, which made filing 2008’s Income Tax a relative breeze. I resolved to keep Quicken current, working a little bit on a daily basis as needed, a resolve that fizzled sometime in mid-May. Here it is the end of 2009 and I am now faced with the prospect of several days devoted exclusively to inputting data to get Quicken up-to-date, a prospect that fills me with dread and one on which I am sure I will hone my procrastinate skills. There is nothing more tiresome than inputting financials that are months old. You would think I would remember the pain during the year when it would be so much easier to input the data on a daily basis, fifteen minutes a day! I bet you can guess what one of my 2011 New Year’s Resolutions will be!

I suppose I might find it easier to keep Quicken current if I relied solely upon it for my day-to-day financial status information, rather than continuing to keep and rely upon the spreadsheet ledgers. As it is, I am duplicating efforts and I realize this, but I have used the spreadsheets for so long that I find them much more reliable and informative on a day-to-day basis than Quicken. I’m a creature of habit, I admit. Perhaps my 2011 Resolution should be to use Quicken on a daily basis and abandon the use of the spreadsheets?

One area that I have done fairly well in keeping on top of is my Financial Diary.

I began creating this diary in January 2009 and it has been so useful these past two years, especially when we moved and needed to close some accounts and open others. Having account numbers, contact information, and all other pertinent account information readily available in one place has been invaluable. For the most part, I have kept this up-to-date on a daily basis, although there are two or three account pages sitting on my desk, waiting for some final clarifications before I add them to the diary.

While the Financial Diary has proven its usefulness, enough so that I keep it mostly current, dealing with my desk clutter in an equally successful fashion continues to elude me. I have tried several different methods of organization, some with mixed results, some total disasters. I love the look of a clean, spare desk, but it seems to be beyond my skills to keep it that way. I blame genetics — if I had pictures of my parents’ desks, I’d post them here as a testament to the genetics I am fighting!

Of course, the ever-present long-term financial goals are to save more money and pay down the credit cards. 2010 has been a so-so year on that front. While we’ve not paid the credit cards down much, savings has been accumulated and used for several financial emergencies without adding any to the credit card balances. And our vacation in December was paid solely from savings, as was Christmas. Progress is being made and with any luck, 2011 will continue that progress.