We sponsor a child through the Colombianitos Foundation.
She is provided with school tuition, school supplies, and lunch daily. She is also a part of theirs Goals for Life Program, which all sponsored kids participate in. The program aims at keeping children off the streets and providing them with life skills through soccer academies. They are found in the lowest income areas of Colombia where the children are at the highest risk. All for only $25 a month which is debited from my account automatically and tax deductible!
As part of being a sponsor, we get letters from our kid and we are allowed to send her gifts on Christmas and her birthday. I contacted the local program coordinator and asked if the Christmas gifts could be sent late, she said that would be fine. I also got information on the family, the home situation, and her size. I found out that she has 3 youger sisters. All in all it is 4 girls ages 12, 11, 8, and 6. They were recently moved into a home provided by the municipality as their home was destroyed in a mud slide.
My original plan was to send some housewares such as sheets, etc. However, it became to difficult to find out what they really needed. So, last night I hit up Wal-Mart. I got some great deals for the kids. I chose to buy for all 4 girls because even though I only sponsor one of them, I would hate to imagine one of the girls getting gifts and not the other 3. I tried toi buyt things they needed that might be difficult for their parents to buy. things that I remembered thinking were “so cool” at around 11. I also wanted something that all 4 girls would enjoy. I bought them school notebooks at 97 cents each. I bought them a pack of about 25 pens at about $1 and 25 pencils with the cool earaser topper and grippies and sharpener the pack cost $2. I also bought them the cool gel glitter pens that was about $2 too (not a bargain, but it has the “cool” factor). I got a 75 pack of colored pencils along with professional sketch books and the professional earasers for the older girls to practice drawing (total of about $10) and construction paper 100 pack of crayolas and kiddie sketch book for the little ones (total of about $7) I also bought them a calculator for $1. Then came the fun stuff: a pack of 10 puzzles (100 – 500 pieces) for $10, Uno Cards for $5 and Dominoes for $5. As I walked out of the store, I walked by the girls section and noticed the clearance section. I found shorts for each of them for $1 and t-shirts for $3! I also picked up really cute bookbags for $15, $10, $10, and $7 for each kid and two jumpropes that were $1 each. All in all I spent about $100. I will also spend about $40 to ship it. My original total budget for this was $100, but both my husband and I know that when it comes to gifts and charity, I always blow the budget.
I am excited to know that I will have provided these 4 girls with clothing, school supplies, and games for $100. TO me, that is a bargain, specially considering that it will be tax deductible. Shipping will be between $40 – $50, just because shipping to Colombia is expensive, but I’ll deduct it from the taxes and make peace with that.
If you think you cannot afford to give to charity, just add up your trips to the coffeeshop or the bar. Personally, I spend $100 monthly on Starbucks (and that’s after cutting back) and about $75 on liquor a month. So, if you can cut that in half, you would have more than enough to Sponsor a Child. Everytime you want that extra cup of coffee, you can just think that you are feeding and educating a child that would otherwise not have that opportunity.
My husband and I had agreed to get together at the end of each month to create our budget for the next month. I have to admit that we’ve been slacking and we generally wind up doing it in the middle of the month, which is crazy because it means we’ve spent half the month without a budget. Anyhow, last night I began to organize my office and realized that we hadn’t sat down to do our budget for February. This happens to be monumentally important because we are currently looking to buy new cars and although we knew how much we had a s a down payment and about how much we could afford monthly, we had not sat down to look at the hard numbers. It turns out we have a nice chunk of change left over at the end of the month, so that takes a little of the stress away where we thought adding two car payments to the budget would be tightening thing up a lot.
Also, it seems that each month that we are married there are more and more line items in our budget. I know that I used to always forget a few line items when I did my single budget. I think it was almost intentional because I knew those were things I should try not to spend money on. However, it seems like there is a lot of extra in our budget now (ie: gym, coffee shops, alcohol, dates, etc). At the same time, it seems as though we have a nice cash flow coming in form random places.
I wish I had a whole post about our refi. However, I’ve let my husband handle this entirely. He bought our house last year before we were married, so he went through the entire process alone (we had broken up at the time). He talked with his dad about the car buying process and fears of budget strains and his dad suggested we refinance at a lower rate to find extra money each month. My husband called up the same lady who did his original mortgage loan and apparently this is a perfect time to refi. Depending on when we finish the process our rate will drop between 1.5 to 2 points, which is awesome. This will bring us a savings of approximately $80/month. Also, she found a different PMI company which will crop our PMI cost by $20/month. All in all we will save about $100/month with the refi. We originally wanted to refi with a non-HFA loan company so that we would be able to do away with the PMI alltogether and according to my husband that would drop the mortgage about $100/month. However, our credit isn’t exactly there yet, so we have had to go with a new HFA loan. We keep all of the house docments together, so the coument gathering process consisted of him grabbing a file folder out of the safe and cleaning his room to find two other documents — pretty painless.
New cars. Ok, I drive a Honda Civic which my dad gave me as a graduation gift 5 years ago. However, that car is committed to my sister when she gets her license. My car that I bought is a ten year old Taurus. My husband drove a Mazda Tribute. Two months ago he was in an accident and totalled the car. At that point we got the insurance money and decided to get him a new car. In the meantime he drove my Taurus. We got $6K for his car. He spent about $500 to fix up the Taurus and wanted to use $3K to buy a used car. My first instict was that he would buy a crappy car that would cost us a bundle in repairs and maintenance in the long run. I nixed that idea and suggested he use the $3K as down payment on a quality used car. He wasn’t quite convinced (even though the Taurus I bought 3 years back for $1.8K had already eaten up arond $3K). Then he drove the Taurus to the office one Saturday morning and I had to pick him up because the alternator (we think) went out. Since my sister is close to getting her license soon, we decided we needed to get cars for both he and I now. At that point we decided to use the $6K as down payment for two quality used cars. My first idea wa to get another Civic or a Corolla and call it a day. He, however, wanted a nice car. He wanted an Acura. Iargued that that would be too much car for us. We don’t need large interiors, heated leather seats or wood grain panels. But he insisted. Then he had me test drive one. I fell in love! so then we started to try to stretch the original budget to buy two used Acuras. As I looked at cars in the Acura price range, I found a used Lexus and went to drive it. I ell in love even more! So it stands now, we are looking to buy a used Acura and a used Lexus both hopefully with under $50K miles and both at around $14,900 hopefully less than that. It is possible, we just have to wait on the right deal and pounce on it.
Well now that the budget is all worked out, I just have to post it on Google Docs and then next week we can get started on tax prep! fun times.
It’s a brand new year and the Blog has a brand new look. Not to mention we have a brand new awesome president! Sorry, I can’t help myself.
My Goals for the Year:
- Organize my home office
- Eliminate my debt (except cars and house)
- Buy new cars
- Increase income
- Start School again!
- Create building blocks for my marriage (ie: better communication, date nights, etc)
- Blog more frequently
- Create a savings plan
- Create a retirement plan
- Begin depositing in my sister’s college fund
The End. Let’s see how I do.