So we got our federal tax returns back on Friday and our state returns today. Last year I couldn't tell you what we did with all our money.. we basically blew it all on dumb stuff. I think we spent about half of it on eating out everyday until the money was gone!
This year we were a lot smarter with our money, and I'm very proud of us! Well, mostly me, hubby did have trouble reigning in his spending desires. He kept promising the kids he'd buy them any toy they wanted and we'd go fun places and eat at expensive restaurants. All the while I just wanted to put all the money towards bills and other important things, and he kept getting frustrated that I didn't want him to spend any of it on fun stuff. Obviously we both need to find a happy medium here.
We had a few main goals. I need a new vehicle, hubby needs to get his car fixed, and I need about $2,500 worth of dental work (that's after insurance). Those three things have been accomplished! I bought a van which we're putting on the road today, and I'm selling my car for $1,500 (hopefully). We ordered the parts hubby needs for his car, and we just need to save a couple hundred to have the parts put on. I'm going to the dentist today and have saved the money I'll need for that.
So, important stuff: check!
Needless to say we do get a very large chunk of cash from taxes due to our 5 children and hubby's low income. So, we still had a bit left over after taking care of the important things, and I'm very pleased with the way we chose to spend it.
First, we bought a laptop. We were leasing a laptop from the company hubby works for and paying about $100 a month for it. We looked into how much it would cost to pay it off early, and it was still over $500. So instead we went to Best Buy and got a new laptop for less than $400, and we're returning the leased laptop. We just saved ourselves $100 a month!
We went out and bought cellphones.. sad to say we did not have cellphones until now. We bought them last year but then discovered we couldn't afford the monthly payments, so they were shut off. We've been without phones since about May or June of last year. To ensure that doesn't happen again, we plan on taking the money I get from selling my Durango and putting it all on the cellphone bill.. basically paying the majority of the year in advance. This way we can pay around $50 a month (to make sure we don't have a full month's bill around Christmas this year) and if we can't afford it one or two months we are basically already paid. Smart thinking!
We also caught up all our current bills, something we didn't bother doing last year! On top of that I even paid off a few old debts. First, I paid Bank Of America. We had an account with them years ago which we overdrew then closed the account (all accidental of course, we were just really stupid with our money). Having this debt was stopping us from being able to open a new bank account with a decent bank. So that's paid off so I can now open a savings account at any bank I want, I might even open a second checking account too just to save towards paying more debts.
I received a couple of settlement notices from some other old debts. One was a credit card hubby had years ago, which had grown to over $700 from interest (it was a $200 limit!). They offered to settle for under $300.. needless to say I jumped on that opportunity! That is paid! I also got a settlement offer from another bill that was over $2,000, and they're willing to settle for just about $1,000. Paying that too!
Then, to make hubby and the children happy, we did do a little bit of fun spending. We did go out to eat, though only once and not at a super expensive restaurant. Then, we let the kids each pick out something for themselves. My daughter got a new Nintendo DS because her old one broke, my older two boys each picked out a video game, and the younger boys got a couple of toys. We also got them each some clothing. Nothing extremely expensive, most of what we picked out was already on clearance. Trust me it could have been so much worse! We'd almost debated getting a DS for the 4 year old (I do want to eventually) and we even debated getting the 13 year old his own cell phone (I'm not willing to have that monthly bill just yet!).
All in all I feel we were very smart with our money and did a lot of good, as opposed to what we could have done. It's amazing how good you can feel when you spend your money wisely!