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Monthly Financial Check-up

Remember how I said last month that we’d decided to wait to replace our van for awhile in order to put that money towards our children’s educational savings instead? Well, I’m not so sure that was the most brilliant decision ever.

For starters, I was heading out with all the children one day a few weeks ago and noticed that one of the van tires was low. Upon investigation, we ended up finding out there was a screw in the van tire wall (don’t ask me where that came from!). So we couldn’t just patch the tire, we had to replace the whole tire.

Then, a few days later, I was driving home and all of a sudden there was a very loud buzzing noise coming from the back of the van. Come to find out, the rear blower motor went out. Considering that it’s been over 100 degrees almost every day for weeks, we decided we’d better fix it ASAP.

Next, we had to get extensive front suspension work done on the van, which was quite costly. Finally, it seems like our transmission might be going out.

So maybe my idea to hang onto the van for a few more years wasn’t so bright? But the decision has been made, so we’ve decided to just fix the issues and hope that it extends the life of the van for at least another year or two–if not more.

I’m grateful that we have an emergency fund so we can cover these types of unexpected expenses and I’m grateful that we live on a strict budget and try to plan for the unexpected. This makes situations like flat tires, rear blower motors and transmissions going out a lot less stressful. As Amy said,

We were able to set aside some money for Silas’ educational savings account, but it’s not as funded as we’d hoped to have it at this point. Oh well, moving forward in the right direction is always better than standing still or going backwards!

Here’s our current goals list:

Our Family’s Financial Goals for the Summer of 2010 through December 2011

1. Significantly increase our giving to needs in our community and around the world.This is an ongoing goal, so we’re keeping it uncrossed off from the list.

2. Pay cash for a replacement washer and dryer for our very used set.

3. Pay cash for a replacement for .

4. Pay cash for a couch for our basement family room.

5. Pay cash for bunk beds for the girls.

6. Fully fund our IRAs.

7. Bump up our retirement savings to 10% of our income.

8. Fund our children’s educational savings. Kathrynne and Kaitlynn’s are done, now we’re working on Silas’.

9. Double our Emergency Fund Savings (Instead of having around six month’s worth of expenses set aside, we’re planning to set aside a year’s worth of expenses.)

10. Save 40% towards our real estate investing goal.

We’d love to hear about your recent financial goals and successes! You can post about it on your blog and leave your link in the comments. Or, just share about your progress/goals in the comments. Let’s all keep each other accountable to be better stewards of our resources!

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  • says:

    We’re doing well with our savings, but man, this summer has killed our budget.

    We are selling our house so we invested a lot of money to get it ready to sell.

    But on the good side. This is our last month for our wedding savings $500/mo each. We will have $18,150 for our wedding 9-10-11 then we will be able to get back to “normal” life. We then will be saving for a new house (down payment)

    Crystal, do you know any home owner programs to help with down payments?

    • Becky says:

      Just wondering, why on earth do you need $18,000 for a wedding? There’s tons of ways you can do a nice wedding for a couple thousand, and the other $15-16k could go a long way on a down payment for a house.

      • says:

        We have 250 people and the weather around here doesn’t allow for an outdoor wedding, and our working schedules don’t allow for a travel wedding. I only spent $130 on my dress and $100 on all the flowers for the 6 girls. We made cut backs for sure. The biggest expense was dinner for $250 and ofcourse alcohol. We didn’t want a dry wedding though. Also we wanted a professional photographer and videograper, along with a DJ and we did splurge on a photobooth. So, we wanted it nice, so it came with a price

  • Heather says:

    Good luck with the lump sum. We did that when our boys were little and guess what?? Our oldest is now 17 and compound interest did not work the way we had hoped. Yes, the fund has grown and it never lost but it never made what we thought it would over the course of the 17 years. (and our estimates on the interest were pretty conversative) The market is not a stable thing. But at least we have some money to help him start up in one more year – just not the amount we had thought back when we took the plunge and made the large deposit.

    • Patti says:

      I am so glad to find out someone else did not reach their goals on saving for college. We put the amount we were told would fund our son’s college into an insurance annuity (which would not be smart now but was then…) and it will pay for one and a half semesters!! We do have other savings and will manage because we are frugal, but it is really hard to predict what college will cost and what work opportunities, scholarships, and federal aid will be available when the time comes. Teenagers here can barely find work (although my son has worked in a fast food restaurant, cut grass and sat for pets), scholarships were very competitive, and federal aid was not available because of our income and savings. Believe me when I say it is not as easy as it looks when you can’t predict the inflation costs, economy woes, and lack of interest paid on your savings. As for local colleges? Ours are swamped and many of the kids are unable to get the classes they need due to cuts in teachers. It’s just plain hard… but frugality wins every time. Keep on plugging along…

  • Heather Finnegan says:

    Related to the van-not sure of your make and model, but I have a Chrysler Town and Country 2006-and after we replaced some expensive parts, there was a “recall” where they extended the warranty on those exact parts. I submitted the bill to Chrysler and got it refunded. Might be worth looking into?

  • Teria says:

    Thank you so much for these financial updates. It has made me sit and make a few goals of our own. Right now the goal is to pay off credit card debt which should be done in February. Then next year I am going to work on paying cash for my children in private school up front. The cost of school is really holding back from progressing faster toward other goals but our city has horrible, unsafe school. So, having my children safe and learning about God every day is worth it!!

    I also have started a donation box under our bathroom sink. I shop for freebies that I may not use, but I know someone would. As a stay at home mom of 3 under 5, that I can give back and make a difference. I learned to put more focus on stewardship from your website. Thank you!!

  • says:

    Well, it’s been over a month since we went all “Gazelle Intense” and we’ve been able to add quite a bit to our savings and knock off a chunk of our mortgage principle, so that’s good news. Hubby has also been working LOTS of overtime, which equals much higher paychecks that are going straight into savings. We’re constantly reworking our budget and seeing where we can cut corners or go cheaper or do better – it’s nice to be on the same page with your spouse! 🙂 For more about the journey of the last month, you can see my blog post about it:

  • Liz says:

    We were able to pay some extra on the mortgage principal this month. DS’s savings fund is still very low. Crystal, would you please link to Jesse’s article about them, because I’d like to re-read it. Thanks!

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