PFG April Financials

Welcome to another edition of Financial Friday.  A series of weekly posts where we share some of financial gold with you on our personal finances, savings, and investing.  Once again, these are just things we have done ourselves and might not work for you, but it doesn’t hurt to try a new way to pan for your own financial gold!

Financial Friday

The Monthly Recap

April 2014 was a pretty quiet month on the financial front.  We did have some expenses that we couldn’t budget for including graduation gifts, renting a tux for an upcoming wedding, dress alterations and a couple of other unplanned items.

Additionally, we paid off some of the unexpected expenses from March including the furnace and dental work.  While the work was done in March, the bills were due in April.  April was also the first month of a new side hustle for myself.  I am helping a company that runs mobile silent auctions.  This is something that I really like doing and the technology being used is amazing.  I look forward to working more events for them and will share that experience here soon.

Our Spending
This month was overall a good month on the financial front.  We did have those bills come due but the money is coming from our refund check which we got in April.  This once again reminded us of the need for an emergency fund.  The refund check is being used for this purpose right now and will help us pay down some additional debt.

Below are the percentages we spent on each category with a note if needed.  In April 2014, we spent around $4,000.

  • 29% – mortgage (interest, principle, and home insurance)
  • 17% – auto related (gas and lease payment)
  • 9% – groceries, dining out
  • 7% – preschool
  • 7% – travel fund (we put money in quarterly for a family reunion)
  • 6% – utilities (includes garbage, internet, cell phones)
  • 5% – health & wellness; this included the dental bill
  • 5% – shopping
  • 5% – student loan repayment
  • 3% – gifts/charity
  • 7% – miscellaneous

As we continue to track the financials, we will highlight any major drops.  This month’s largest drop from March was on our mortgage and food.  Both of these saw a significant drop because of the addition of health and wellness expenses this month.

Our Debts
With the new reporting, we want to be clear that when we talk about debt that we are being up from with what our “true debt” is.  Like most Americans, we have a mortgage and student loans.  In our past reports, we have listed credit card debt but this was never debt since we pay off the balance each month.  For our purposes moving forward, we will only talk about debt as our student loans and mortgage.

In April 2014, the payments for both of these areas remained steady and the percentage of these didn’t change from March.  We paid off 0.15% of our mortgage and 0.45% of our student loans.  Not a great reduction but we are looking at how the side income can lower these amounts over time.

How was your April 2014?  Did you have any unexpected expenses?  Did you make extra income?  

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Our 3 Week Hiatus

Sometimes life gets in the way.  Actually life is sometimes life and priorities have to change.

When I set out to start Pure Family Gold, I wanted to give everyone a glimpse into the weekly lives of our family.  I wanted to share the happiness, sadness, and struggles of our family as we navigate through life and finances.  But I didn’t plan for what happened over the last three weeks.

An Annual Event
For the last 8 years, I have worked in many different capacities for nonprofit organizations.  I have enjoyed being a part of some amazing organizations really changing the community and have grown both as an individual and professionally.  For the first time in my career, I played a major role in our annual fundraising event this year.  For two weeks, my daily work activities revolved around RSVPs, seating charts, slideshows, and communication with all guests.

This was the first time that I had the opportunity to work on a wide range of activities regarding an annual fundraiser and I loved every moment of it.  However, the week of the event also became the hardest I have worked at my current position and this meant sacrificing time with my family and writing.

A Family Trip
The PFG Family traveled for a week this year in the middle of April.  We went down to Orlando, Florida for a holiday and to spend some time with Mrs. PFG’s extended family.  This week of sun and paradise (and crazy rain) was a nice break from our day-to-day activities.  PFG boy had so much fun racing down the hotel’s water slide, walking around Downtown Disney, and chasing after his many cousins.  PFG girl enjoyed playing in the water and crawling after her toys.

A Vacation from Our Vacation
While the time away from our jobs and home was much needed, as is the case most times, we came home and needed a vacation from our vacation.  PFG boy, PFG girl, and I all came down with a spring cold last week which still hasn’t gone away.  And the rest of the week seemed to disappear before our eyes.

Every once in a while, a hiatus from our day-to-day grind is necessary.  But it is also nice to get back to the things that you love.  Look for more parenting stories, personal finances, and letters to our kids as we get back into the swing of things here at Pure Family Gold.

FF14: PFG March Financials

Welcome to another edition of Financial Friday.  A series of weekly posts where we share some of financial gold with you on our personal finances, savings, and investing.  Once again, these are just things we have done ourselves and might not work for you, but it doesn’t hurt to try a new way to pan for your own financial gold!

Financial Friday

This month, we are changing things up.  Based on some feedback and a great book that I read, we will not be providing the exact numbers of our “net worth” anymore.

While we… actually just Mr. PFG… wants to show transparency,  we believe that the net worth we were presenting was both not final (since we didn’t present our investments) or valuable to our readers.

When I first set out to write a blog about our financials and life lessons, I wanted to share relevant information with the readers.  Does anybody really care that our net worth went up a percentage one month versus another?  Probably not and why do people need to know our net worth anyways?  We don’t need people to feel pity for us or for them to judge us for what we post.

Rather than highlight this “invasive” information, what we will do in these monthly recaps is talk about our debt repayments and our average spending.  We will no longer give a dollar amount (except for the total amount we spent each month) but a percentage to highlight what we did month over month.

As things arise in our lives, we expect this blog to continue to evolve.  Currently the majority of readers are our friends and family, so any feedback or suggestions will be greatly appreciated so that we can change the blog to interest our readers.

And Now the Monthly Recap
In March 2014, we changed the date of our main credit card to be in line with the first of the month.  As Mr. PFG is only paid at the end of the month, we believe this will help us budget and track our money more appropriately.

This month did see some unexpected expenses arise with a problem with our furnace and some dental work for two family members.  This brings us to our new financial endeavor which is to set up an emergency fund.  While we are not sure initially how we will fund this, we are currently looking at opportunities for “side hustles” where we can make additional money.  This additional money will be used for two purposes with a percentage going towards an emergency fund and the rest going towards debt repayment.

If you know of any part-time opportunities or writing opportunities, please let us know.

Our Spending
Besides the unexpected expenses with the furnace and dental work (note: these expenses actually won’t show up until the April credit card statement), this month was overall good on the spending front.

Below are the percentages we spent on each category with a note if needed.  In March 2014, we spent around $3,700.

  • 34% – mortgage
  • 16% – auto related (gas and lease payment)
  • 13% – groceries, dining out
  • 11% – preschool; this was abnormal as we had to pay registration for next year this month
  • 9% – utilities (includes garbage, internet, cell phones)
  • 6% – shopping note: this category will be split up more accurately in the future to show a breakdown of kids items (diapers, formula, etc.)
  • 6% – student loan repayment
  • 5% – miscellaneous

Starting next month, we will give a comparison on how these change and the percentage change each month.

Please note: while our mortgage payment is higher than what is recommended, we have cut our overall expenses down a lot and by cutting expenses elsewhere, the percentage spent on our house went up.  

Our Debts
With the new reporting, we want to be clear that when we talk about debt that we are being up from with what our “true debt” is.  Like most Americans, we have a mortgage and student loans.  In our past reports, we have listed credit card debt but this was never debt since we pay off the balance each month.  For our purposes moving forward, we will only talk about debt as our student loans and mortgage.

In March 2014, the payments for both of these areas remained steady.  We paid off 0.15% of our mortgage and 0.44% of our student loans.  Not a great reduction but all that we can afford currently.

How was your March 2014?  Did you have any unexpected expenses?  Did you make extra income?  

It’s the Little Things

…that we take for granted.

A week ago, I broke a toe on my left foot.  It was the first bone that I have ever broken and hopefully the only bone I ever break.

However, while I have been hobbling around for the last week and a half, I had an awakening.  I have taken it for granted that I have ten functional toes that allow me to balance the rest of my body on them.

Photo Credit: ezioman via Compfight cc

Photo Credit: ezioman via Compfight cc

These ten little digits have taken me around the world, helped me walk down the aisle for my wedding, supported me during the birth of my two beautiful children, and allowed me to do my daily activities without much problems.  But I have taken this for granted.

Actually, I have taken many “little things” for granted.  I have taken my overall health for granted.  I have taken owning a home and a car for granted.  I have taken the fact that I have a job for granted.  I have taken my relationships with Mrs. PFG and with PFG boy and PFG girl for granted.  I have taken my parents for granted and I have taken my siblings for granted.

While waiting at the doctor’s office to have my foot checked out last week, I looked around and saw people who had much different ailments than me.  My injury was just a toe and I needed to be thankful for that.  I needed to be thankful that I have never broken another bone in my body and I needed to be thankful that I had the health insurance to protect me.  I needed to start showing gratitude for everything I have.

Ironically, the last month has been a whole month of gratitude for me and breaking my toe just reinforced the need for me to show gratitude.  I have been reading a wonderful book called The Magic by Rhonda Bryne (who is also the author of The Secret.)  This book has 28 activities of gratitude where you have to consciously think about everything that you are grateful for.  There are days where I have to show gratitude for the relationships around me, for my health, for the money I have for the things I need, and for the daily activities in my life.

This book and the activities have made me slow down and think about everything around me.  I cannot look past these “little things” anymore.  I need to be aware and thankful for my health; both the good things and the bad things.  I need to be thankful for the relationships I currently have, the ones I may have hurt along the way, and the future relationships I am working to build.

I need to be thankful that I am able to pay all of my bills and afford the necessities around me.  If I cannot currently pay for something, I need to be thankful that I will have the opportunity to buy those things at a later date.

Most of all, I just need to slow down and live my life with gratitude that I am alive and can explore each day as a new day.

To all of my readers, friends and family:

Thank you, thank you, thank you.

For being there during the tough times and celebrating the good times.  For pushing me to be better and for supporting the Pure Family Gold family through all of our adventures.

FF13: Teaching PFG Boy About Money

Financial FridayWelcome to another edition of Financial Friday.  A series of weekly posts where we share some financial gold with you on our personal finances, savings, and investing.  Once again, these are just things we have done ourselves and might not work for you, but it doesn’t hurt to try a new way to pan for your own financial gold!

Kids are fascinated by many things and for each child it could be completely different.  For some it might be toy cars while others love empty boxes.  Others love playing with dirt and some cannot get their hands dirty.  But there is something that all kids seem to love and that is money… well specifically coins.

For PFG boy, this is no different.  From the time he was two and his grandparents started giving him coins for charity or giving him the change from a purchase at the store, he has been hooked.  When he was younger, he would call all coins his monies and would try to see how many coins he could hold in his chubby hands.

As he grew up, any coins he saw were his monies; even the spare change dish at my parents house.  The funny thing about kids is that they don’t discriminate about money.  Any coin for them is magical and it doesn’t matter the true value of the coins.  They just want more and want it all… I have heard this doesn’t change when they get older either.

As PFG boy has gotten older, we have thought about new ways that we can teach him about money with some successes and some areas where we probably need to wait until he is older.  Below are two examples of things that have worked so far.

Experiencing Money at a Young Age
In Colorado, we are lucky to have an amazing bank specifically for kids.  This bank called the Young Americans Bank is run by the Young Americans Center for Financial Education.  The bank is specifically set up for kids to learn how to set up their own bank accounts, apply for loans to start their own businesses, learn how to serve on a bank board, and much more.  While PFG boy is still on the young side, Young Americans Center has other opportunities for him to participate.

This December, PFG boy and I attended an entrepreneur fair hosted at Young Americans Center.  Kids of all ages where selling products that they had made and showcasing their creations.  For PFG boy, who was 3 at the time, this was great.  He could run around and try out new things.  But as is the case with most 3-year-olds, he wanted everything; especially all of the cupcakes.

As we walked around, I took out five dollars that he “earned” and had kept in his piggy bank.  This was the money that he could use to buy items for himself and for gifts for Mrs. PFG for her birthday.  While he didn’t understand the true value of a dollar, he was so proud of himself when he handed the “sales person” the money and asked for a receipt.

This small experience in a safe environment allowed him to buy things that he wanted and he gained the knowledge that money is not endless.  We have done this in other places like Target where he purchased a new toy.

 

Note: As an elementary school student, I participated for a number of years in a program they host called Young Ameritowne where you learn how to write checks, go to the bank, run a business, earn a paycheck, and shop at stores.  Local businesses sponsor these storefronts where you gain life lessons that cannot happen in the classroom.  

Going Beyond the Regular Piggy Bank
While at the Young Americans Center, we were given a brand new piggy bank for PFG boy to use.  This piggy bank unlike others has slots for saving, spending, investing, and donating.  Initially, PFG boy was so excited to fill up all of the slots and emptied his piggy bank into all slots without thinking where the money was going.

However, he quickly grasped that he wanted to fill the slot where he could buy new toys.  As he continues to get older, we will work with him to understand the real value of each slot so he understands that some money should go into each slot.

Additionally, we have started the 52 week challenge with him where he puts money each week into the savings slot.  He will be able to use this money at the end of the year on gifts for the holidays.  Each week he is putting in a penny per week so he is on 13 pennies this week.

We look forward to continuing to work with PFG boy and PFG girl to learn the true value of money.  As they get older, we will have them set up accounts at the Young Americans Bank where they will be able to participate in the many programs and services offered.  If we can teach them when they are young, we will help set up a healthy way to look at money for the future.

How do you teach your children about money?  Are there tools that you use that are better than others?

Happy 4th Birthday, PFG Boy

Photo Credit: the.serial.chiller via Compfight cc

Photo Credit: the.serial.chiller via Compfight cc

Dear PFG Boy,
Happy 4th Birthday!  Four years ago, you joined our family and changed our lives.  Each and every day since has been an adventure, a learning experience, and an amazing journey so far.

Your birth was at a time when we were going through lots of changes ourselves.  We had just moved into our first “family” home, Daddy was in the middle of applying for a new job, and Mommy was going through training to do the visual displays at her work.

PFG boy, you are full of energy, questions, and an amazing imagination.  From the time you wake up until you go to sleep, your mind is processing and learning amazing things.  The way that you give voices to your toys and can play on your own for hours on end shows your independence.  Yet, you also love to snuggle with Mommy, PFG girl, and me.

You love swim lessons, bike riding, playing on the playground, and hanging out with all of your cousins.  As for foods, maybe someday you will try something other than blueberry waffles for breakfast.  Other favorite foods of yours are pizza, chicken and french fries, noodles, and peanut butter and jelly.

Your memory is unlike anything we have ever seen.  You can remember conversations you had two weeks ago and run into our room after you wake up reminding us about the “promises” we made before you went to bed.  This has also made us be careful in what we say to you as you will continually remind us.  Even spelling things will have to go out the door soon as you are learning the letters at an amazing pace.

We are so excited to watch you continue to grow over this next year as you begin your last year of preschool, continue taking swim lessons, start playing a sport, and caring for your sister.  We look forward to watching you continue to use your imagination and are excited to play more and more games with you.

We love you so much and are excited for what this next year will bring!

Love,
Mommy and Daddy

Why Our Caring is All Backwards

Last night, Mrs. PFG, PFG boy, PFG girl and I went to our friends’ house to celebrate their new addition of a baby boy and to bring them dinner so they wouldn’t have to cook.  Just like our friends and family did for us, this family has had home cooked meals brought to them over the last three weeks and it has been a huge help to them.

But as we were driving home last night, I began to wonder about the whole idea of providing meals to other families.  In our society, we have been taught that we should provide meals to families when there is a birth, illness, or death because it is the “right thing to do.”  Having been on the receiving end, these meals have been greatly appreciated and our friends and family did it because of their love for us.

However, shouldn’t we be kind and caring all of the time?  Why should it take a celebration, an illness or tragedy for the community to rally around each other?  Does the fact that we brought our friends dinner last night preclude us from doing it again in a couple of months?  Or is the gesture only “valid” in the first month of a new child’s life?

What about for a friend who is mourning the loss of a loved one?  Wouldn’t they like a meal in a few months?  It isn’t like the mourning process ends after the service.

Yes, you can have your friends over for dinner and it would still show a sense of caring but sometimes (especially when you have kids) it is nice to have a nice home cooked meal brought to your house.

As we begin our own spring cleaning at home, I hope that the Pure Family Gold family will also “spring clean” our perspective on how we care for those that we love.  Rather than waiting for a celebration or tragedy, we will proactively reach out to our friends and family and offer them meals.

As my brother-in-law always says, “you are always welcome at our house for dinner because we always have to eat.”  Our friends and family always have to eat dinner so we offer to bring them dinner.

What do you think about the tradition of bringing a meal to your friends?  What other ways can you show them you care throughout the year? 

FF12: Saving $45 at Target

Financial FridayWelcome to another edition of Financial Friday.  A series of weekly posts where we share some of financial gold with you on our personal finances, savings, and investing.  Once again, these are just things we have done ourselves and might not work for you, but it doesn’t hurt to try a new way to pan for your own financial gold!

For the last few weeks I have been receiving numerous blog posts from a great local coupon and deal website called Mile High on the Cheap.  Most days, there are four or five deals and they range anywhere from free items to buy one get one free.

At first, many of the deals felt like they didn’t relate to us or would be useful to us since we have completely dropped the number of times we go out to one or two times a month.  Additionally, some of the deals we would see after they had already expired or were for dates we were not available.

However, last week we saw one that was right up our alley.  For every $40 you spent on their store brand Up and Up products you would receive $15 off of your total order.  Having gone strictly to using Up and Up for our diapers and wipes for PFG boy and now PFG girl, we jumped at the opportunity.

Initially, we thought about just using the coupon once but then Mile High on the Cheap suggested purchasing $80 worth of products and splitting it into two.  So there we are on Saturday afternoon (the last day) going around Target to find $80 worth of Up and Up products to receive $50 off.

We found that the first $40 was easy to spend ($25 for a package of diapers and $14 for a package of wipes) but then we noticed that there was only one box of diapers available.  So we decided to purchase four bottles of baby shampoo, fifteen packages of baby “mush”, a bottle of lotion, and another box of baby wipes.

Basically in our first order, we had bought all of those items and received the two boxes of wipes for free which will mean we don’t have to buy wipes for the next six months (especially since PFG boy is using the toilet all of the time!)

As we were leaving the store, I grabbed another Target flyer with another coupon.  Who knew, maybe we would have time to stop at another Target to get an extra box of diapers?

Later that night, we stopped at Target one last time where I purchased a box of 225 diapers (the next size up) and six more packages of baby “mush.”  For the whole activity, we spent a little over $80 for more than $125 worth of merchandise.  

We now have diapers to last us for the next three months (at least), enough baby shampoo to last us the year, enough baby food for the next two months, and we have the piece of mind knowing that we also saved money!

We look forward to continuing to look at the deals Mile High on the Cheap publishes and we will share some of them with our readers.

Do you use any discount websites?  What are they?  What is the best discount you have ever received?

 

Springtime – Brings New Family Time

Happy first day of spring!

With this first day of spring, there is a new sense of “added family time” that we always feel in our household.  We make an effort to get out of our house, take evening walks, and explore the many parks that our community has to offer.  As our family continues to grow, these “extra” hours of sunlight in the evening will bring more and more meaning to our lives.

For one, PFG boy just started riding his bicycle (with training wheels).  When we first bought him the bike in the fall, he struggled with the concept of pedaling and would get very frustrated.  And then last week, he got on the bike for the first time and just took off.  He hadn’t been on a bike in five months and all of a sudden, he got it.  We are excited to watch him continue to master this new passion of his and celebrate with him throughout this summer and spring.

A couple of days ago, PFG girl turned seven months old and she is truly engaging with the world around her.  She laughs at the sight of her dog running around and wants to grab everything in front of her.  The added family time this spring and summer will allow us to see her enjoy her first swing ride, slide ride with mommy, and watching her brother speed ahead.

Additionally, spring time also allows us to explore what our community has for us – for FREE.  In a couple of months, the Aurora Chamber’s Bank in Harmony concert series will begin, City Park Jazz, movies in the park, Celebrate Family at the Jewish Community Center, and more!  As we get closer to these events, we will share with you some of the great activities we are going to participate in.

What fun family things do you do that have been in hibernation for the last few months?  What activities are you looking forward to this summer?

FF11: What’s Next… We Want Your Financial Stories

Financial FridayWelcome to another edition of Financial Friday.  A series of weekly posts where we share some of financial gold with you on our personal finances, savings, and investing.  Once again, these are just things we have done ourselves and might not work for you, but it doesn’t hurt to try a new way to pan for your own financial gold!

For the last 10 weeks, the PFG family has shared with you our personal finance journey.  We have enjoyed giving you a monthly update on our net worth (look for the monthly report to change shape for March), sharing with you some of our own saving methods, telling you how we save for our kids, and much more!

However, we know that there must be other families that are going through savings challenges themselves or have stories to share about their own financial journey.  Maybe you have a savings plan that you would like to share with the readers of Pure Family Gold.  Maybe you use the envelope method for your budgeting each month.  Maybe you have paid down 54% of your debt in two years.  What ever your story, we would love to help you share it.

We are looking for people to share their own financial journeys with us and with our readers.  One of the biggest reasons we started Pure Family Gold was so that people could learn and grow alongside us.  We know that your stories will help us grow and help our readers explore different ways to look at their finances.

If you are interested in sharing or highlighting your own success story, please contact us today.

Please note that we will not publish any names on the Pure Family Gold blog.  If you want ideas on how to share your story, let us know in the comment section of the contact form and we will help you.