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ING Bonus here too!

January 16th, 2010 at 08:13 am

Oh, happy day! We received our $121 ING bonus today too. My first thought is to determine what to do with it. Should we put it toward debt, toward xmas savings, or just add it to the checking account to pay bills? But, I know what will probably happen. It will just sit in the ING account, and at some point I'll use the card that came with the account and spend it and it will just go away and have no specific purpose. I'm good at doing that!

Part of me wants to be very organized and spend a lot of time figuring out where to put every penny. But then I just leave things to deal with later "just in case" we need the money for something and nothing specific happens. I guess what I really need to do is take the card out of my wallet and put it up to remove the possibility of using it when I'm out and about and instead just try to add money here and there to the Electric Orange account.

My answer may change this afternoon. Someone is coming to look at one of our dogs that is for sale. If she buys, we'll have a bigger chunk of money to do something with.

~~~~

As I reread this before posting, I think the answer is right in front of me. We basically wiped out any real savings we had accumulated to keep up with bills since income went way down last year. We've also cashed in some savings bonds. The need to have money "just in case" strongly suggests that the answer is to designate some account as emergency use only and re-fund it. Not the xmas fund, and not the $20 challenge (which I haven't started yet), but a separate account or sub-account. That's what we'll do, at least in my book! DH sees it differently. He has not bought into the idea of any savings account, much less having separate accounts for separate things. My answer is that if I'm responsible for tracking the money, I need to do it my way. If he wants to take it over and put it all in one account, that's fine. I know he never will, but it's not exactly one of our stellar marriage moments when we discuss it.

Approved! and other tidbits

January 12th, 2010 at 05:43 am

We've been approved for our refinance! Yippee! Wahoo! Smile Smile Smile

It should make things a little easier to handle financially. I think I mentioned before, but some of the cc debt will get rolled into this. Not nearly as exciting as if we were paying it OFF, but not having to juggle that many payments each month will be fantastic. We're going to attack any remaining debt to see if we can't get rid of it all.

I haven't made much progress on goals yet. I did walk for the first time yesterday in a long time. I mean, I do some physical activity mostly on the weekends, but I had been walking on my lunch hour frequently last spring & summer and just got out of the habit. I just went for 15 minutes yesterday. I'll aim for 20 minutes today.

Oprah had a show on yesterday about decluttering and tuning out of electronics in order to tune in to the family. I have been trying for a long time to spend some solid time on that, but it just gets pushed aside. Maybe the show will motivate me a little.

I've had a great week with mini-shopping trips. So far, I've gotten 5 Healthy Choice frozen meals, 3 cans Rotel tomatoes, and 2 packages of Halls cough drops completely free with coupons. It seems like there might have been something else too, but I can't remember now. I've also gotten some nice freebies in the mail. Yesterday it was 3 Atkins snack bars. A few days ago, it was 2 packets of Hellman's mayo, a 2-pack of poptarts, and the year started off with a full-size bottle of Suave shampoo in the mail. I sign up for these freebies, but don't keep track of what I'm "supposed to" get, so when it comes it's always a nice surprise!

One lonely penny

January 5th, 2010 at 10:21 pm

I found my first change on the ground of 2010. One lonely penny, and it wasn't even heads up. I picked it up and put it in an open plastic container on the car seat and then proceeded to dump the container when something else slid off the seat and knocked the container when I stopped a little too quickly. Now it's lost in my car. I wonder if I'll find it 2 months from now, and think it's another "found on the ground" claim!

I signed up on a team for the heart association's Fit Friendly Challenge, so hopefully that will help with my exercise goal for the year. It doesn't officially start for another 2 weeks, but I'm not going to wait. As I write this, I realize I haven't done anything for 2 days, but that's just because I've been scheduled at both my full time & part time job both days. That leaves little time for exercise!

My report card for 2009

January 3rd, 2010 at 10:11 am

I'm not at all proud of it, but here it is.

Goal #1 was to increase money paid to credit cards. My grade is an F. Instead of paying down credit card balances, our overall total is up by $4,035!!
Goal #2 was to lose weight. My grade is a D-. I didn't lose and I didn't gain. Well, more accurately, I lost a little and gained it back. Hmmph!
Goal #3 was to declutter. My grade is a C. There was at least some effort here, even if there wasn't much improvement. This is totally subjective, of course, but my instructor (me!) is tough and expects a lot.
Goal #4 (although it wasn't written) was to decrease grocery spending down to $100 per week. My grade is an A-. This one I am very proud of. I REALLY tried, but maybe that amount is too low for us. DH is frequently saying "We've been out of (fill-in-the-blank) for a few days now. When are you going to get more?" It's usually something that I knew we were out of but skipped it for a day just to stretch the budget. Things like milk or bacon. Other times, it's something that is over my personal max that I'll pay. Cheese goes on sale so often, and many times I'll have coupons, so I just wait....LOL. Anyhow, back to the report card. Although I didn't get us down to $100 per week, I did drop our overall grocery spending from $6,974 in 2008 to $5,820 in 2009. Coupon savings went from 31% in 2008 to just 26% in 2009, but the average per week dropped from $134.11 to $111.92. That is definitely something to be proud of!

The report card may be bad, but I'm not a quitter! I updated the sidebar with some 2010 goals that are a little more specific. #1 may be accomplished when we wrap up the refinancing process we're in the middle of, since part of the refinance is to lower our interest and payment, but some of the credit card debt will be part of the refi. So, technically, the debt will be reduced, but if it just increases our secured debt we haven't gained much. I'll worry about that when the time comes.

Just for fun, and for something for reference, my 2009 totals for odd things I track were:
Found on the ground: $2.34 and 11 forever stamps = total of $7.18 for 8 months
Rebates: $871.27, plus another $60 pending. This is a little misleading since it doesn't include the many gift cards I got from credit card rewards, and used for gift-giving. But it's still a nice chunk of change.

I haven't yet decided how I'll track the grocery & coupon savings. It's a little time-consuming how I do it now in Excel, so I may come up with another way by adding a category in Money since I already record everything there. I've been double entering, in effect, and that's not really efficient.

Wish me luck!!!

~~~~~
My accomplishment for today so far (other than organizing info for this recap) has been entering 22 codes in mycokerewards, bringing my total points to 1566. Now if only I could find something I actually wanted from there!

Farewell to 2009

December 31st, 2009 at 08:55 pm

I'm ending the old year watching "Wild Hogs" on TV, and then heading outside to feed the animals in the moonlight. Not an exciting evening by any means, but I don't really need excitement to enjoy!

I haven't had a lot of time to think about new goals for 2010, but hopefully I can do that soon and wrap up the old year. I don't really think we accomplished much financially or healthwise or organizationally. It's sad but true. On the other hand, I love thinking about wiping the slate clean and starting over.

Enjoy whatever you do this evening, and talk to you next year!!

My husband the comedian

December 27th, 2009 at 07:45 am

As they were advertising all the after Christmas sales on TV, my husband turned to me & said "We have to go to Macy's!" Huh? We don't ever go to Macy's.

His reasoning? They were showing all the models in underwear and stating it was 25% off. He wanted to know which 25% of the ladies were going to have their underwear off! Smile Smile Smile

My Christmas Eve

December 24th, 2009 at 04:33 pm

I had today off from work, and I have thoroughly enjoyed it. I spent the morning surfing the net looking at things with DH - things he wanted to look at. It made him happy.

I fed & watered (with some help) our animals. They are always so happy to see me...or at least to see me bringing food. It made them happy.

I took SS to do some shopping. It's hard to tell with him, but I think it made him happy.

And all that was left was to make me happy! While at Walmart with SS, I picked up a few last minute groceries and a few things for me as a gift from DH. He insisted that I get something, even though I couldn't really think of anything I wanted. I bought a big soup bowl to take & keep at work so I can bring in cans of soup to heat up for lunch. I bought a blouse that I just saw someone wearing yesterday and really admired it. Who knew they got it at Walmart? I rarely see this person, so I went ahead & bought the same blouse for me. And then I bought two bras. Woo hoo! And that will be my Christmas.

But then the best part? I've been baking for the last few hours. So far I made brownies, banana bread, cinnamon swirl bread, and I'm about to make chocolate chip cookies. Some of the breads are in these cute little loaf pans that I bought. They're just tossable aluminum pans, but they are so cute for the mini-bread loaves. I'll be making a gift basket of the goodies for our neighbor and a friend, both to be delivered after Christmas. I'm having such fun!! The weather outside is frightful, so it's the perfect night for baking.

Enjoy your Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, whatever you're doing. And travel safely!

Need suggestions

December 14th, 2009 at 07:05 pm

This isn't exactly financial...well, maybe little bit. I have made it thru the whole year and lost a little weight and then gained it all back plus a few extra pounds that I REALLY didn't need! I called a weight management place that sounds promising on their ads - no gimmicks, no drugs, just support and a personalized plan. The initial consulation is free. (I imagine it's pretty much a sales pitch). Then there is an up front fee of $249 for various testing. I can get a health risk assessment free at work, but that only dropped it down to $205. I'm not sure what all is included, because I was pretty disheartened after hearing that it didn't drop the price by much.

Then, there is a $99 fee for 10 visits. Fair enough. But then, the kicker. They "require" you to buy various supplements, starting at $1.95 and up, and most people need 2-3 of those per day!! Holy cow!

I can't figure out why I even considered calling them, since we don't have THAT kind of money to spend. I don't care how much it saves over time; I just can't justify the cost right now, and I can't justify the cost when I know that I can DO this on my own. I just have a really hard time committing to it.

So, I started really thinking about this today, and listing some sample meal plans that would work for me. I could get down to 1500 calories per day, and if I started walking again, I think that would be enough to get things moving in the right direction. It all sounded good in theory, while I was at my desk at work, and then I realized my biggest problem lately. I have a long drive home from work, and I often stop to pick up groceries or other items we need on the way home. While I'm there, I frequently pick up a snack "for the ride home". That is going to be a tough habit to break!!

So....I need suggestions. What are some of the ways you (if you've have a situational habit you needed to break) successfully distracted yourself enough to break the habit? I listen to the radio if I can find something I like. I don't have an ipod, MP3 player, CD or tape player in the car, or I'd consider listening to books on tape or something that I knew I wanted to hear. I definitely don't want to talk on the cell phone while I'm driving, even though it's tempting some times. (Paying by the minute is the cure for that temptation.) I just really need brainwashing. LOL

Any helpful suggestions?

Sick of clutter

December 13th, 2009 at 10:24 pm

I finally did it! I spent several hours yesterday and today attacking my "office". It used to be an office and now it's really just a storage/junk room. The desk is still in one corner, but that's the only part of it that resembles an office!

I came up with:
* One bag of trash
* One bag for Goodwill.
* One box for electronic recycling.
* A winter jacket with a broken snap, and DH was able to fix it.
* an air mattress bought not too long ago that I'd forgotten to return, and the receipt is taped to it!
* 3 nice pairs of gloves I'd forgotten all about
* a box of baseball caps we'd ordered with our logo on them and forgotten all about.
* 13 items that I listed on CL, some freebies
* A wide variety of candles, air fresheners, and health & beauty aids that I might use to make up gift baskets

There is still a lot to go thru, but I was able to organize many of my shipping supplies better so I can actually see what I have for a change...now if anything would actually SELL on Ebay that would be helpful! I shouldn't complain, since one of my CL items already is sold in theory. The woman that wants it will mail me a check and postage so I can ship it to her. It's a local check so no worries there.

All in all, I'm quite pleased with the progress made. The best part is that I FEEL great and not so out of control. With the holidays coming up I don't know how much more I can get done, but every little bit helps.

Nifty thrifty

December 11th, 2009 at 10:33 pm

I had a coupon that I printed worth $5 off a purchase at Hallmark Gold Crown stores. It doesn't specify a minimum purchase or anything, so I went yesterday to look around. An hour later I came out empty handed! I don't know if it was the mood I was in, or what possessed me to NOT take advantage of that coupon. Surely I could find something to give for a gift? Nothing jumped out at me. Surely I could find something for myself? Nope, nothing really appealed to me. I thought about a bracelet they had and even tried it on, but decided against it in the end. I have a ton of greeting cards already, so I don't need any more. No one I know collects any of the various mugs, doo-dads, and whatnots that they have.

I thought about just laying the coupon down for someone else to find, but kept it just in case I think of something in the next week that I can use it for.

Today, on the other hand, was a success. I just had 20 minutes after work before a local thrift store closes, so I stopped in. For this particular store, 20 minutes isn't nearly enough. It's huge! I found a nice new-looking basket for a plant, and I've been looking for one for awhile. And then, with just 5 minutes to spare, I spotted a nice sweater. It's off-white with gold trim, and really quite nice. After I tried it on and fell in love with it, I saw that it has a stain, possibly ink, on one of the cuffs. The sleeves are long enough that I can just turn the cuffs back if I can't get the stain out. $1 for each item, and I was on my way!

It looks like someone already tried to get the ink out since it's faded, but if anyone has suggestions for how to get rid of it, I'd love to hear them.

I loved my mail today!

December 9th, 2009 at 06:27 pm

It was a very nice mail day. $20 in rebates from Prestone antifreeze, and $40+ reimbursement from my Health Spending Account. Yesterday I got a $5 rebate too. And, wonder of wonder, there were no bills either day.

DH & I celebrate 20 years of wedded bliss today too. Our high dollar celebration was pizza from Walmart and milk. Yum! Our farm help didn't show up today, so I get the pleasure of spending the next hour or so outside in the freezing cold finishing up the chores. Do we know how to celebrate, or what?!

And that's my day....

Sidebar updates

December 6th, 2009 at 08:24 pm

I've updated several things on the sidebar today. I was tired of seeing old numbers (from May in some cases!), even if they looked better than they do now.

Credit cards are way up. Weight is back up. Ugh!

Rebates are up a little though too, so that IS a bright spot.

My coupon savings isn't as good as I thought it would be. About a month ago, I decided I was REALLY going to buckle down and try spending $40 or less on groceries, and that's it! Hah! I knew it would be hard, but it turned out to be nearly impossible. There were stockpile-worthy sales too good to pass up, and many times I find that we run out of several higher dollar items each week. That's something I wasn't considering. I was just thinking of the 2 gallons of milk, 5 loaves of bread, 1 box cereal, 1 lb. cheese, etc items that added up to almost $40 each week -- not the $8 coffee, $5 bacon, $5 tp, $7 meat that popped up in week 1. The $40 quickly turned to $60, and it's stayed closer to that each week. I think I did better when I didn't try to set a strict limit!

Or, maybe my strict limit was too low. I thought that we were averaging $45/week on groceries, and $60/week on dog food. When I look back over the records, it's more like $60/week on groceries and $50/week on dog food. Maybe I'll try again with a $50 limit and see how that works.

I just noticed today that our BOA savings account incurred a $5 monthly maintenance fee for the first time. I wasn't sure why until I went and read the rules again. The balance has to stay above $300 each month, or there has to be an automatic transfer set up. I'd forgotten totally about the minimum, and transferred some money out last month, dropping it way down. Dumb! I set up an automated transfer in from our checking a/c each month, so hopefully that fee will never be seen again.

One step closer

December 5th, 2009 at 04:07 pm

We have "preliminary approval" on our refinancing. One step closer, but it's turning out to be a long drawn-out process. The reason is that it's an agricultural finance, and going to be sold to Farmer Mac. I'd never heard of them, but found all the information online, and then checked the company we are going thru out online.

It will give us a little breathing room in our finances, at least.

I haven't started shopping for gifts. We thought we weren't going to do much, but then I realized that other people are still going to get something, so we'll be prepared to reciprocate. I might do "goodie baskets" with baked goods and fruit and other tasty treats. Those are great for people you don't know what to get. Everyone likes food!

I found a dime on the floor at McD's today. Shouldn't have been in there in the first place, but I might as well find money when I'm in there!

"Are you ever going to upgrade your phone?"

November 30th, 2009 at 10:53 pm

That's what a friend asked me last weekend. "That's like the first phone I had!" It's kind of funny she said that, since I never really think about the style of cell phone I have. It's definitely not the latest & greatest, and it wasn't even the latest & greatest when I got it. But:
(a) it was cheap
(b) it still works

I think I got it about 3 years ago. I was almost out of a 2-year contract and didn't want to pay for a brand new phone or get a new phone free with another 2-year contract. So, I got a refurbished one for cheap. It was a flip phone with a camera. I never used the camera, and started having problems with the phone, so I turned it back in for another refurbished flip phone with no camera and went with prepay when the contract ran out.

I'll never fit in with the crowd, and I'll never be a trendsetter! LOL

It makes me realize just how far behind the times I am when it comes to techno-gadgets and keeping up with things. No cable, no satellite tv, no tivo, no dvr, my digital camera is 7-8 years old, no texting, no facebook, no twitter, no myspace. My car is from the mid-90's.

I do, however, have satellite internet, so it can't be all bad!

Found a quarter

November 28th, 2009 at 04:55 pm

That's it for my financial news du jour. LOL!

We had truck troubles in the wee hours last night after I'd met DH at a sale. Fortunately I was following him home, and fortunately we were within a few miles of a 24-hour Walmart. I went to grab a few supplies so he could do a quickie battery switch and get home in the truck, and there was a nice shiny quarter waiting for me at the store.

Zippity do dah!

What to do, what to do....

November 27th, 2009 at 11:31 am

I have today off from work. Yippee! My husband made plans to take a local Amish to a sale also, so he was gone by 9:30 this morning. (Double yippee!! Sssshhhh. Love ya honey, but it's nice to be home alone sometimes). So that left me wondering what to do with my free time. The whole time I was doing chores after he left, I kept thinking what I would most like to do in the 2+ hours before I leave the house to go meet up with them. And you know what i came up with? Squat!

I checked on my ebay items, answered a question about shipping to Canada, and revised the listing to show that I would ship to Canada. I checked email. I opened an ING Electric Orange account with the Black Friday special (go to www.ingdirect.com/BlackFriday) to get the $121 credit in 50 days. I read a few blogs. I walked the dog. I ate lunch, fixed my hair to reduce the "windblown look", and played a computer game. In other words, I did NOTHING worthwhile with my free time. No wonder my to do list of things I keep putting off is so long! When I have the time, I waste it!!

I might venture to Walgreens on the way to meet the guys to see if I can snag a few of their 3-day sale items. It's a small town, so it shouldn't be too crazy there, but I still doubt they'll have any of the good deals left.

Oh, and today is DH's birthday too. I don't have anything for him, at least not yet. We're both slackers in that department. On my birthday, he told me to go get something from him. I picked out a pair of nice pants for work for $15, and was happy. I don't DARE tell him to pick out something. His taste would run closer to $100 on some tool or doodad that would sit in a corner and rarely get used. I'm sure Black Friday would have been just the day to get that $100 tool for $50, but I am definitely NOT a Black Friday shopper!

Enjoy the rest of the day. If you got up to go shopping (or to work) at 4am, you ought to be in bed soon, so enjoy your sleep.

Happy Thanksgiving!

November 26th, 2009 at 06:07 am

Enjoy your Thanksgiving feast, whatever it may be.

We're having steak! No traditional turkey this year. Steak, fried potatoes, gravy, green beans, deviled eggs, celery stuffed with cream cheese, and cranberry sauce for tradition. Dessert will be a 4 layer cream cheese, pudding, jello concoction that looks good in the recipe picture.

I made cranberry bread last night too that came out pretty tasty.

The baking and ebay were my main activities last night. 50% off listing fees for auctions was a nice incentive. I did fairly well last week, and sold 6 out of 13 items. I relisted 6 of the 7 items that didn't sell (skipped the one with only 1 view, since it was probably me!) and added a few more. I just hope the three people that still haven't paid me since the items sold on Sunday will get their butt in gear! I wish these were all high ticket items with nice profit margin but they aren't. My profit is only around $25-$30. I'll still take it!

Installing Christmas lights

November 21st, 2009 at 09:33 pm

As I was driving to my class this morning in a nearby city, I saw a sign hanging on one of the light poles. "Christmas lights installed, call xxx-xxx-xxxx".

I'm sure it's not a new service, but I don't recall seeing it offered before. It made me wonder if the person offering the service brainstormed different ways to earn income because they are out of work, or if it's something they do every year to make a little extra income for holiday spending. Would they get any calls? Is there really a need for this kind of service?

I often think things like that when I see services offered that I wouldn't ever consider hiring someone to do. And then I realize that the service exists because someone perceived a need for that service. If the service persists, there is a definite need. For this service, there are probably a lot of people that like the decorations, but HATE the actual decorating, so they probably will get some calls. I hope so. I like to see creative ideas succeed.

While I'm on the topic, another creative idea that I've heard a roofing company advertise is an annual maintenance contract. I don't recall the annual amount, but for their service they will come inspect your roof once a year and look for problems that need to be addressed. They'll also clean your gutters "for free", but I don't know if that's once a year or twice a year. Is it a gimmick or a legitimate need? I'm not sure, but I thought it was an ingenious service offering. Do you really need someone to inspect your roof every year? Probably not, but maybe it's not such a bad idea in an area that often has high winds and a sprinkling of tornadoes. And it's much cheaper to fix the source of a leak than it is to repair the inside damage after a leak starts, right? And then, the gutter cleaning is thrown in "for free". So, I thought it was a smart, creative idea, even if I would personally never purchase it.

Well, that's my deep, rambling thoughts for the day. Or, it might be all I come up with for the weekend.

oh, except for the good news that I sold one item on eBay (under $5, still waiting for payment...) and have bids on 4 more. With 14 items that I listed, that's less than 50%, so I hope a little more activity happens tomorrow!

What a way to run a business!

November 14th, 2009 at 07:43 pm

A month ago, my husband bought some rubber boots at a local farm store. Of course, he didn't try them on, but he asked if he could return them if they didn't fit. The man told him yes.

They didn't fit. He has wide ankles and not a lot of flexibility so I knew there was no way he'd get into them, but I wasn't here to put in my 2 cents worth when he went to get them.

I was running errands 2 weeks ago and stopped by to see if I could return them without the receipt (the tag is still on them), and they were quite unhappy with the request. The man brought out a stack of receipts and started flipping through them to see if he could find the original purchase, but it was a real half-hearted effort on his part. I had to get to the bank by noon, so I told him I'd go home & look again for the receipt. Never mind, I thought. I'll list them on CL. I had one inquiry but no takers.

Fast forward to today. I threw the boots in the car and got to the store a little earlier this time. I explained to the girl in charge the story again, and in walks the guy who gave me a hard time last time. I told him I had looked but couldn't find the receipt, but related that the older gentleman that had checked out my husband told him he could return them if they didn't fit. I then added "I have more time to wait around today if you want to find the original ticket." (Hint: This means I'm not taking no for an answer). He got the hint, but his reply was a big sigh and an "I guess"!

What a way to run a business!

DH offered to go in and make him apologize for the rude treatment, but I declined. I got what I wanted, which was the cash back in hand. I never really cared for shopping there in the first place, but now there's an extra reason to find elsewhere to buy. Do you think I might mention this bad experience to several others? You betcha!

Slow-paying side job

November 13th, 2009 at 06:59 pm

I got a check today for my work through May for a mail decoy company. When I get something in the mail, I just log it and it takes a minute at the very most. So, for the past year, I've been doing this. DH thinks it's stupid, but the way I see it, that's money I didn't have before - all $29.50 of it.

The only bad part is this company pays 1 quarter behind, so for my work through May I should have been paid in August. But they it was delayed, and delayed again, and again. After 3 emails, they finally sent the check and I received it today. I think you have to have $25 for them to pay, and I just added up the work accumulated since May and it's not $25 yet. So at this rate, if I get enough mail to log by the end of November, I should get paid in February, but it will be more like April. Crazy! The other interesting thing is that since I started questioning I've noticed the volume decreasing. It might be a total coincidence, as I was getting 2-3 items per day for awhile from one particular client. Maybe they just had a contract for a certain period of time, and now there won't be anything from them.

I also got a $2.00 rebate and I found a penny on the ground in the post office.

I think it's supposed to be nice tomorrow, so I hope to get a few more things done outside to prepare for colder weather. Enjoy your weekend, whatever you do!

Last minute lunch and over-budget already

November 12th, 2009 at 08:36 pm

It's week 2 of trying to limit grocery spending to $40 a week, and I'm already over this week's limit by $10. Hopefully, next week I can scale it back a little to make up for it.

I've been trying to make a list during the week for the following week of everything we need or are close to running out of. Then I try to split the list into must-haves and can-wait-a-week items, and shift things around if there are sale items that can be combined with coupons I have. The week starts out good and I try to save some money back for the extra milk or bread I know we'll need at the end of the week, but then more things creep up unexpectedly. Oh, well, I'll keep working at it. Practice makes perfect, I hope.

Today I was in a rush leaving for work and found I didn't have any more Lean Cuisine meals to take for lunch. I didn't have anything to make a sandwich out of, so I scanned the cupboards. Tomato soup - not in the mood. Cereal - nah, just had that for breakfast. Nothing else jumped out at me until I spied the potatoes. That's it! I grabbed a potato, a partial bag of broccoli, and threw some shredded cheese into a microwavable container. Voila! It was a tasty lunch, and much cheaper than grabbing something on the go.

Got some good deals at Walgreens tonight. These are some of what put me over my budget, but I couldn't resist. A small bag of trail mix for the ride home from work, 2 big boxes of Kleenex, and 4 cans of Glade air freshener for....$3.97. Of that, I paid $1 cash, and used the exact remainder of the money on my Revolution Money Exchange card for the other $2.97, so it wasn't really cash out of my pocket. I didn't even need the Glade, but I can submit the receipt for a $5 SC Johnson rebate. When I figured out the individual items by price, the 4 Glades cost me just $1.25. Gotta love it! I'll spend a dollar or two every day if I can double or almost triple it each time. Now if I only I could figure out how to do that with hundreds of dollars.

2 days til payday

November 11th, 2009 at 08:10 pm

I don't like living this close to the edge. I can't wait for payday to come, but the majority of the money is already earmarked to pay various bills. Somebody called tonight about taking a look at one of our horses, but I don't know if they'll really come thru or not. It would be nice!

Nothing else is going on related to finances, so this is a short and not-so-sweet entry!

Happy Veterans Day. Thank you to all who serve(d)!

Too much clutter & coke rewards

November 8th, 2009 at 07:39 am

You know you have too much clutter when...you trip over something in your junk room. I have got to get to that room and do some organizing and down-sizing. I tripped yesterday climbing over a dog crate which was wedged betwee a file cabinet and a table. I slammed into the desk and bruised my arm pretty good. Fortunately that was all that got hurt. My husband was in the next room with his cousin and they both thought I just knocked something over. I guess if I hadn't come out they would have gone in to check on me...or at least I hope so!!! LOL

I just added 18 more codes to my tally on Coke rewards. They should accumulate much slower now since I weaned myself off of it. I just had 2 glasses all last week instead of the 2-4 glasses I was drinking every day. I don't really miss it, once I got past the first 3 days. Anyhow, my points level is now 1475, so I went window shopping to see what I could buy with it. I've done magazines and t-shirts and donations in the past, but this time I was looking for gift cards to give for Christmas. Nothing jumped out at me, although my nephew might like a $20 Nike gift card. I usually give something of $25 value, though, so it's a little less than normal. Then I saw 2 free tickets to Silver Dollar City (a theme park) in Branson, MO. That would be a nice day trip for me & the hubster (or me & a friend if he doesn't want to go). I haven't been to their holiday light display in about 10 years, and it is just beautiful. I don't even know what it costs for admission anymore, but it wasn't cheap the last time I went. So, this is a really good deal. Hmmmm, I'll check with him today and see what he thinks. Those points are now burning a hole in my pocket wanting to be spent, after I've spent over a year adding to the total without redeeming for anything!

Gorgeous day!

November 7th, 2009 at 11:49 am

(Don't read if you are having lousy weather wherever you are, because I don't want to depress you!)

It's GORGEOUS here today!!!! Mid-70's with quite a stiff breeze, but it's hardly November weather at all. I'm loving it. I spent the morning listing some things for sale online, while waiting around for someone to call me back about something I already had listed. We exchanged emails and a phone call, and they were going to call back. (they never did, no big surprise). Then I ran a bunch of errands, including a few yard sales. My steal of the day was 2 pairs of Lee jeans for $1.45. It was 75 cents a pair, but when I emptied my pocket I was a nickel short. I think and hope they are the right size. I have a dresser drawer full of jeans that are a size or two smaller that I bought cheap at yard sales thinking they would fit. They would, if I would just lose 20 - 25 pounds!

The mail today brought my coupons that I had purchased on eBay to use up some expiring eBay Bucks I had accumulated, so that was a good mail day.

Now I'm headed out to enjoy the day!

Grocery updates and to-dos

November 6th, 2009 at 10:05 pm

It's been a long time since I posted any updates on coupon savings for the year and average per week. I finally figured the tally, and so far this year on grocery, household supplies and dog food it looks like this:
Before coupons = $6,647
After coupons = $4,853
Savings = $1,794....roughly 27%
At week 45 of the year, that makes our average per week $107.85. It's not as good as I'd like, but it's not that far off from the $100 I was shooting for.

My list of things to do this weekend is a mile long. It's supposed to be really nice here, so there are several outside activities to do like mowing, pulling up all the stakes in the garden so it can be plowed up, putting away various items that have been used during the summer but not put back. I'd also like to move some stuff from one storage area to another and rearrange it in the process. Unfortunately, the indoor list to do is much longer and more important than most of the outdoor stuff. Many are related to finances - list some things on ebay & CL, organize paperwork, complete financial papers for a refinance, do online training that I've signed up for to help advance pay at my seasonal job, etc. Hopefully, I'll wake up with tons of energy and can get a lot of it done and crossed off the list!

Enjoy the weekend, whatever you end up doing.

Possible side job - any tips?

November 5th, 2009 at 07:50 pm

An acquaintance called me today and asked if I'd be interested in setting up a web site for their business. It's a service business, so they aren't selling any products on the web site - it would just be informational, with a description of services, pictures, references, etc.

I've never done this type of work before, other than setting up our own website for our farm. I'm kind of proud of what I came up with there, but it's not the fanciest web site either. I have had people compliment me on it, though, so I'm considering taking on this job. Naturally, since I'm me, I start thinking of the reasons NOT to do it first. Things like I'm not 100% confident on all the ins & outs of setting something like this up and I don't really know how to charge for my services. And then the voice on my shoulder says why not? You can check what others charge to get an idea of an appropriate fee. You've explained already that you haven't done this before for hire, and this person was okay with that. You can ask others for help when you're not sure how to do something.

I'm taking a few days to think it over, check pricing, and decide. Anyone have any tips?

I don't want to be the parent

November 4th, 2009 at 07:13 pm

I had an interesting, if not frustrating, conversation with hubby today. He went to look at an old, I think '34, truck somewhere yesterday that someone told him about. (I'm gonna get his friends and family duct tape for gifts to tape their mouths shut!) He wants it, really, really wants it. He knows that finances are very tight, but it's one of those deals that don't come along every day, supposedly.

He mentioned it first, as in "do you care if I go look at it?" Do I mind if you LOOK? No, of course not. But I know that doesn't just mean he will look at it. Naturally, he made an offer on it, and told me different things he could scrap out to come up with the money. My thought is that if we could scrap out those things and come up with money that we ought to put it toward some good use like paying down our debt.

This is not a new thing for us. But, I gave up a long time ago saying no, because it just made us miserable. He was miserable because his wife was telling him what to do. I was miserable because he was miserable, so I finally told him one time that I was tired of feeling like the "parent" in this relationship. It didn't really change anything, except it relieved me from feeling that I was carrying the decision-making burden alone. We still may not agree that some of these purchases make sense, but I tend to step aside and let whatever he thinks needs to happen, happen. Sometimes he ends up buying whatever it was, and sometimes he doesn't. Only time will tell if it will leave us with more financial struggles down the road. I hate taking that chance, but I hate fighting over money more.

My logical brain tells me that if he buys this particular truck it will be something we could sell later if needed. His brain doesn't work the same way. He's very reluctant to sell any of his "treasures" that have accummulated over the years. I tried teasing him today saying that if he were a kid I'd be telling him no news toys until he gets rid of one of his old toys. He was not amused!

~~~~~

As I read back over this before posting, I can't decide if I'm complaining or whining or venting or just stating my random thoughts on the topic. Who knows? Maybe it will get out some of my frustration on the topic.

~~~~~

In definitely positive news, I found another dime on the sidewalk in front of another grocery store. That's 2 dimes this week! That beats 20 days of finding pennies, but it's all really the same.

And then, hubby cooked dinner tonight! Smile I asked if he was trying to butter me up because of the truck discussion! But no, his son was here and not feeling well (suspected hangover), so he thought he could get him to eat something. Whatever the reason, I'm pleased as punch! Treats like this don't come along often, like maybe 2x a year.


How much time do you spend online?

November 3rd, 2009 at 08:00 pm

Just curious...how much time does everyone spend online "playing" each day, on average? (not counting time spent making money blogging or doing surveys or selling online)

I have a routine almost daily of checking 2 email accounts, reading some blogs, and checking for coupons. Somewhere in there I peek at Craigslist also. If you asked my husband, he'd tell you I spend about 5-6 hours a day online, but it's really more like 2-3 hours. That still seems like A LOT!

I went back to Dillons again tonight after I found a few coupons online and identified 10 more items to get for their mega saver event. I couldn't resist! For $3.58 I bought:
3 Lean Cuisine meals
2 Betty Crocker potato mixes
3 Chex Mix
2 Bumble Bee tuna pouches

I also bought $4+ of ground beef at another store, so of our original limit of $40 for the week, I still have $17 left. Tomorrow I'll hit up a discount store for bread and fuji apples. Last time I was there the apples were 49 cents a pound, and they are huge. Lets hope the price holds until I can get there.

Shopping after work

November 2nd, 2009 at 09:52 pm

I did some grocery shopping tonight after work. With the time change, it was already getting dark, but in one case it worked to my advantage. As I exited the store, the street light was glinting off something on the ground...a nice shiny dime! Kind of makes up for the fact that the cashier forgot to deduct 10 cents from my order because I brought my own reusable bags.

I dedided to try grocery shopping with cash for a change and truly trying to limit myself to $40 each week. I started off great tonight and only spent $15 (out of pocket) for these groceries:
2 gallons milk
laundry detergent
2 2-liters coke
3 Lean Cuisine meals
12 oz. package cheese
1 box saltine crackers
Betty Crocker potato mix
4+ lbs. bananas, reduced
5 lb. bag grapefruit
1 box Kashi cereal
2 pouches Bumble Bee tuna
1 bag fritos
1 bag Halloween candy
rubbing alcohol

I clarified this as "out of pocket" expenses because included in the list is $9 worth of stuff I got at Walgreens using register rewards from a prior purchase. I thought that was a pretty good trip either way!

I saw an interesting post on Money Saving Mom about a free download of an ebook called Thriving on Less. I downloaded it but haven't started reading it yet. http://thepowerofless.com/2008/12/free-ebook-thriving-on-les...

Planned leftovers and 1 year ago today!

November 1st, 2009 at 06:23 pm

I just finished making a delicious dinner and have planned leftovers to take with me to work tomorrow. Round steak with peppers & onions, cooked in some black bean flavoring mix I've had in the cupboard forever. The steak came from some my MIL gave us last year from a cow they butchered. The peppers came from the garden, and I paid at most 25 cents for the mix from a discount food store over a year ago.

Add fried potatoes, broccoli (from our garden) and a little bit of shredded cheese, and it was a wonderful meal. Maybe not the healthiest...but cheap and wonderful!

I upped my found on the ground total by 2 cents I found yesterday while out running errands.

Today was a busy homebody day. I fed the outdoor animals, cleaned the dog crate, cleaned 3 bird cages, vacuumed, dusted, washed a few windows, did 3 loads of laundry, fixed a lampshade, fixed the latch on the front door, and set up my "Rat Zapper" in the kitchen after DH saw a mouse. It's a nifty device I bought last year when we had a rat problem in our barn. It kills them with an electric current - no blood and no mess. The first one we had ended up having issues too quickly (although we did kill several rats and mice with it) and the company sent us a new one. I pulled it out of the box around 11am this morning, set it up on the floor but didn't turn it on, and an hour later checked to see if they'd taken the bait (dog food). They had. I baited it again and turned it on. In about an hour, it lit up indicating there was something inside. Sure enough, it had zapped a mouse. I took it ouside, dumped the mouse and the remaining 2 pieces of dog food out, put the dog food back in and came in & turned it on. While I was cooking dinner, I checked and the light wasn't lit, so nothing had been caught. We sat down to eat in the other room, and when I took our plates back in, voila! Another one bites the dust! I love it!! It didn't come cheap, but with animals in the house I don't want to put out poison or a regular trap.

I'm on day four of no diet soda. I tried to use a coupon I'd printed for a free Cherry Coke or Coke Zero at Kum 'n' Go yesterday, but they were all out. My goal is to not necessarily cut it all out, but to cut way back both for my health and my wallet. I figured free or cheap was ok, but it just wasn't meant to be.

I just noticed after I posted this so I had to go back and edit..DRUMROLL PLEASE....It's been 1 year since I started blogging here. Woohoo!! I can't say that I'm any further ahead financially than I was then, but I've learned a lot and I've very thoroughly enjoyed being a part of the community. Smile


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