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Archive for January, 2009

Took a break and "found" $5

January 30th, 2009 at 02:24 am

Okay, my last two blog entries were rather whiny so I took a little break. I've been reading and commenting but really didn't have anything of my own to write.

Now I do. My last paycheck from my job that ended in December came through. It will pay our bills through the middle of February. We've got some money in the EF to tap into, and I have income from the part-time job. Hopefully we can squeak by into March. I think we'll have to drop health insurance, which will reduce spending by just over $900/month. Cobra isn't an option, since I've been self-employed for years. DH will be covered, or at least sort of, with the VA. We always kept his insurance up anyhow, just because he has a lot of health problems, and we don't want to run into something they won't help with. Plus, he really doesn't want to deal with a VA hospital. I think there is some type of insurance available from the part-time job, so I need to check into the cost of that. Should have done it already. I'm anxiously waiting to hear the hiring results from a job interview I did a few weeks ago. I recently found and applied for 2 more jobs in the area that fit my skills also, so I hope something will come thru from one of them. In a normal job market, I'd think my odds were pretty good of getting 1 of the 3 jobs. In this market, I don't even know WHAT to think!

In other news, I bought dog food at Walmart today. I had two gift cards from the store that have been in my wallet for a long time, maybe even a year. I found them the other day when I dug around looking for something to scrape ice off my windshield. (They worked, although it was slow progress!) Anyhow, before I paid for my order, I tried using the cards. One had no balance, but the other one had $5. It barely made a dent in the price of the dog food, but five dollars is still five dollars!



Doormat

January 24th, 2009 at 09:08 pm

I am a doormat today. I'm lucky enough to have a part-time job that is really busy right now (tax season), but today is my day off. It just so happened that DH made plans with his brothers to go look at a truck or parts or something mechanical that one of them needs. That leaves me alone in the house! Yahoo! Yahoo! Yahoo!!! It is truly a rarity around here, because my DH is usually here 24/7. With it being winter, and the cold really bothers him, he's in the house 24/7, in the living room 24/7, asking me what I'm doing 24/7. I love him to death, but it drives me batty!!

I have a to do list that can rival Santa's list at Christmas time, so I'm always doing something, whether it's on the computer or organizing or whatever. He won't come find me and hang out where I am, and when I'm in the same room on the computer I'm "ignoring" him. So, I was thrilled to have the house to myself to concentrate and do some things...until SS called and wanted to get some groceries. He can't go himself (lost his license), didn't want to go with the guys and stop by the store on the way back (I'm sure that would have been boring and an inconvenience for him). So, doormat that I am, I agreed to take him. ARGH!!! My one and only chance, and I blew it.

What did I sort of agree to do?!

January 23rd, 2009 at 03:16 am

This is a little off the topic of finances, but not too far. So here goes. A few weeks ago an acquaintance saw me looking for a job on the internet and sort of mentioned that I really needed to talk to his wife about how to look for a new job. Short story - she is in a dead end job, making just minimum wage, and hasn't had raises or any real job benefits for years. It's a small company that she works for, so that explains some of it. I sort of agreed that sure, I could talk to her. We didn't make any concrete plans, and we don't normally do anything with them as a couple.

Well, I saw her once after that at an event that wasn't really suited for discussing job hunting. It was an event that most people would have dressed up for, but some were there in neat casual attire. Not her. Sad but true, as I was talking to her with idle chit chat, I noticed a distinct B.O. She was dressed sloppily and I don't believe she had bathed for a few days.

Last week, I passed along a job lead that I saw on the internet to her husband when we saw him. Then, today, I asked again if she'd followed up on it. No, she really just doesn't know how to go about getting another job, he said. I kind of brushed it off that I needed to find my own job before I really spent any time helping someone else. So, I backed off, but not backed out. But what in the world have I gotten myself into?! Thinking back over the years, I don't think the poor hygiene is an isolated incident, but I had completely forgotten about it. This would be WAY more than just helping someone put together a resume, and introducing the concept of preparing for an interview and the etiquette of cover letters and such! But I wouldn't be comfortable suggesting anything else. This isn't a young girl either; she is grown and they have a family. I just think she is shy and unsure of herself. She sort of "fell into" the job that she has now.

I'm open to suggestions how you would approach the situation if it were you?




Buy this and get that....or NOT

January 20th, 2009 at 12:18 am

I am a sucker for deals. This week there are two that I'm debating. Both CVS and Walgreens have a special to buy $20 of Pepsi & Frito Lay products and get $10 off your next purchase. There is also a rebate sponsored by the same companies to get $15 back in coupons if you buy so many of each of the items. I have about $3 or $4 worth of coupons, so in reality I might only pay $16-$17 plus tax, and I can get both the coupon for $10 off my next purchase and the $15 worth of coupons. What a great deal! But you know what? I'm trying to cut back on the grocery budget, drink less diet colas and lose weight, and I don't NEED any of the junk!

The other deal is at Walgreens. I don't recall the other products, but if you buy 8 jars of either Skippy peanut butter or Ragu spaghetti sauce priced at $1.99 each, you get $10 off your next purchase. The deal also works in smaller numbers, but not as great a deal, like buy 4 get $2 back. I have another $3 or $4 worth of coupons so if I went for the best deal, I'd pay my $13 or $14 and get $10 back for next time. There was a time when I first started couponing that I'd run out and do this because it's a pretty good deal, but it just doesn't thrill me. Could I use another jar or so of peanut butter stocked away? Sure, but I'd rather wait until it's on sale for less than $1.99 somewhere, use my coupons and get just a few jars for $2 or $3.

So, I think I just decided. By NOT doing these deals this week, I just saved $30 on my grocery bill. In the long run, since I would have gotten $20 back, I might only have saved $10. Or, if I count the coupons I COULD have gotten back on the rebate deal, I might have actually lost $5 in the long run with this decision. And I think that's what the retailers and manufacturers want me to think..."if you don't do this, you're missing out on saving money, so buy, buy, buy!!!!"

Weekly grocery update

January 19th, 2009 at 01:11 am

I only spent $55 and change on groceries this week. That's REALLY low for us! It brings the average for these 3 weeks down to $95 from the 2-week average of $115.16. For groceries and household products, the total before coupons was $72.90. After a 54% coupon savings of $39.69, the money spent was just $33.21. For dog food, it was $25.02 less just $3 in coupons, bringing the total to $22.02. So, the final result for all was $97.92 less $42.69 coupons (44%), leaving $55.23 out of pocket.

I was undecided at the beginning of the year if I would keep tracking the before coupon and after coupon totals. It's tedious, but for some reason I couldn't part with it. It was such an awesome feeling at the end of last year to see how much we saved and to see the average per week drop way down. So, I keep tracking it all.

Cut & color, please...

January 15th, 2009 at 04:19 pm

I'm on my way shortly to get my hair cut & colored. I don't know why, but I'm too chicken to try to color it myself. The directions don't look all that difficult, but I just never have tried it. Instead, I go pay $45 every 5-6 weeks to do it. It seems like a lot to spend in the name of vanity, but from what I've seen at the roots I don't think I could handle just letting it go.

Why am I chicken? How hard could it be? I really think it all comes back to having a mother that didn't bother coloring her hair and just having brothers. No one to experiment with! I had friends in high school & college, of course, but I think the most extreme anyone ever did as far as hair color was bleaching a little streak or maybe washing in a funky color for Halloween. We just didn't experiment like I think is more common now. Heck, maybe there wasn't even do-it-yourself kits "way back then"! LOL. It was just during the 70's & 80's. Seems like just yesterday.

I guess I look at it as my one luxury. I don't do tanning, or massages, or manicures & pedicures, spa treatments, facials, or any of the other girly extras. Maybe I'm entitled to go let someone else color, wash, cut & dry my hair as long as I can afford it. After all, I cut way back on my diet coke addiction starting this year. Surely I have some money left over to put toward the hair treatment!!!

Cheap, frugal, or green?

January 14th, 2009 at 03:58 pm

I washed out some quart size ziploc bags for the first time this morning, and I can't decide if that makes me cheap, frugal, or green! I don't normally buy this sized bag, and I didn't buy these either. People had given us baked goods after a luncheon and there were 4 packages in ziploc bags. They were relatively clean, so I thought "why not"? I'm re-using something, so that helps me stay GREENer. I'm not buying something I don't need, so that makes me FRUGAL. But washing and reusing a ziploc just seems like maybe I'm being CHEAP!

What do you think?

I posted this yesterday but then it disappeared. I was interested in what people thought, so I'll post it again.

Dream job and free tax software

January 13th, 2009 at 05:13 pm

I found my dream job! This is on the yahoo headlines, but I thought it was neat enough to post here as well: http://news.yahoo.com/s/afp/20090113/od_afp/lifestyleaustra...

I don't fit the qualifications, but a girl can dream, right?

~~~

The free tax software I mention is TurboTax Business. It's a free (federal) download for Windows. I'm not recommending it or endorsing it in any way. As a matter of fact, I normally have used TaxCut instead of TurboTax in the past, but I saw this yesterday and downloaded it for free just to check it out. I'll actually be preparing taxes for people this year, so this is kind of silly for me to promote, but the part I wanted to check out is the ability to create W-2 and 1099-MISC Forms on plain paper. I have several to do, and in the past I've always lugged out the typewriter and prayed the ribbon wasn't all dried out and hoped I didn't make too many mistakes! If you're interested, here it is: http://www.turbotax.com/lp/ty08/ppc/ttb-learn-more-biz-free...

Cheap, frugal, or green?

January 13th, 2009 at 05:03 pm

I washed out some quart size ziploc bags for the first time this morning, and I can't decide if that makes me cheap, frugal, or green! I don't normally buy this sized bag, and I didn't buy these either. People had given us baked goods after a luncheon and there were 4 packages in ziploc bags. They were relatively clean, so I thought "why not"? I'm re-using something, so that helps me stay GREENer. I'm not buying something I don't need, so that makes me FRUGAL. But washing and reusing a ziploc just seems like maybe I'm being CHEAP!

What do you think?

Weekly grocery updates and rebate tally

January 13th, 2009 at 03:09 am

I've finally finished updating our checkbook, Microsoft Money, and the spreadsheet I tally each week to see my coupon savings for groceries, hba & pet food. I was over 2 weeks behind.

Week 1 (ending 1/3) wasn't all that impressive. Total spending was $157.69, after just $9.58 of coupons. Blah! There were two big purchases of dog food, so that explains the expensive week.

Last week was much better. Before coupons I would have spent $131.49. I saved $58.87, leaving a total of just $72.62. That's a 45% savings! My average for the 2 weeks then is just over $115. I'd like to keep the average that low all year. I know I've been posting about freebies lately, but I also had a few aces in the hole. I had close to $18 in CVS extra bucks. Since I paid once to get those, I count them as coupons when I use them. Also, I got in a batch of Purina checks that I count as coupons. Those are from sending in the weight circles and redeeming them for checks to use on future purchases. I had $21 worth of those that I used. I've got more to use this week too, and I'll try to hit up Target where you get a $5 gift card on the big bags of Purina dog chow.

Other things that I tallied up for the year are rebates, cash from ebates and bigcrumbs, surveys, Walgreens rebates, cash back checks, and anything else like that. I don't include CVS extra bucks, Walgreens register rewards, or points redeemed for gift cards, so it's a little inconsistent. Anyhow, of the things I did keep track of, I earned a whopping $1438!!! (If anyone wants a referral link to either bigcrumbs or ebates, see my sidebar.)

I'm in the process of updating my sidebar too. I updated the ticker, but it's a little disappointing. I'm not sure how I thought I paid off $1791 since Nov 1 on credit cards (that's what it used to say), but I really only paid off $891. I guess in two months that's not horrible, but considering the balances we have, I won't be done until I'm old & gray unless we step it up a notch. It's much better if I look back at the whole year which is not posted on the sidebar. In 2008, we reduced the cc debt by $12,918. Now THAT's more like it!!


Found on the ground, and more freebies

January 12th, 2009 at 02:39 pm

In the past week, I've found two pennies and a thing of stamps. Jackpot! The stamps were one of those that sells for $8.40, and there were only 3 or 4 missing from it. I feel bad for whoever lost it, but glad that if someone had to find it, it was me!!

The week before that we were in Walmart and one of the clerks was practically standing on her head looking under all the shelves in the electronics area. She said one of the other men that worked there had lost his wedding ring. I happened to glance down and under the next rack of shelves and saw a dime. I made sure when I picked it up to put it in my pocket I showed it to her so she didn't think I was pocketing his wedding ring!!

I scored some more freebies at a few grocery stores yesterday. With coupons, I was able to get all of the following for FREE: 2 4-pks Cottonelle tp, 2 Suave deoderant, 2 10-pk Lipton iced tea to go, and 4 kit-kat candy bars. I also bought a 120-ct package of napkins for 11 cents, boxed scalloped potato mix for 40 cents, and two 6-ct packages of sugar-free Jello pudding for $1 each. I bought bananas too, but I don't think I spent more than $5 for all those groceries. I also got 2 20-ft boxes of Reynolds Wrap foil from Walgreens for free on Saturday. What could be better than FREE groceries?!?!?

10 cent cereal and lots of freebies

January 10th, 2009 at 04:50 pm

That was just one of my deals this week. I went into a store I don't usually stop in just to pick up a few things. I knew I didn't have coupons for them, so I didn't bother bringing my coupons in. But then I saw a crushed box of Kellogg's cereal in the markdown cart for $2. I paid for my order (without the cereal), went back to the car and found first $1 off coupon, and then the jackpot - a $2 off coupon!!! The $2 one was a catalina from Dillons (those print off after you pay for your order) and this wasn't a Dillons store, so I wasn't sure they would take it. The cashier rang up the cereal and said she was the one that dropped a ladder on it. I told her how glad I was as I gave her the $2 coupon. It went thru with no problem and I paid my 10 cent tax for the cereal. Woohoo!

I had a few other good buys around town yesterday also. I got a FREE Febreze candle at CVS. I don't know if vanilla is considered a Christmas scent or if they are discontinuing this particular candle, but it was marked down to $1.99. No sign or anything, but I had read somewhere online that others had found them marked down. I had a $2 coupon on that, which they adjusted down to take $1.99 off, making it free.

At Walgreens, I bought a bottle of Palmolive dish soap for just 31 cents with coupons. And, at Petsmart, I had a coupon for a free treat up to $4 so I bought a big Christmas stocking with a paw print on it, reduced 75%, and got it for FREE. I'll stash it away until later in the year, and put it on ebay. Anything I make there will be pure profit, even if it's a small amount. I also had a coupon for getting Beggin' Strips for free with any Purina dog food purchase. I bought 3 bags of dog chow, so I got the strips for FREE.

Staples had a lot of $1 items this week, but most were sold out. I wandered around killing time between other appointments and found a Buxton business card holder marked down to $2.50. I thought it was leather, but now I see it's Made in China and 100% synthetic. Oh well, I still love it! I just got business cards for my part-time job, so I needed something to carry them around in my purse.

Days are flying by

January 8th, 2009 at 03:38 am

I can't believe it's been 3 days since I had something to report. I've been busy, I guess. I'm still trying to find a block of time to finish and close out "the books" for 2008, run some reports, analyze the numbers, and figure out goals for 2009.

On the job front, I'm just waiting for the company I interviewed with last week to call to schedule another interview. This is a little more than wishful thinking, since they emailed to say they'd be calling to set something up.

If I get this job, I believe it will be a huge pay cut from my last position, but at least we will not be paying close to $1000 per month for health insurance. There are other benefits as well. The budget will need serious overhaul, though, to accommodate the change in income. If I DON'T get this job, there will be no "budget", since we'll just be in survival mode. I suppose no budget sounds like a dumb idea, but I don't even know how I'd work out a budget, since we'll be tapping into savings quite heavily. Ack! I can't even think about it!!

Evil, evil credit cards - public TV show

January 4th, 2009 at 07:40 pm

The tv is on and there is a show about credit card companies, and how they reserve the right to change the terms of the "agreement" at any time, for any reason, and for no reason at all.

One of the consumers said their minimum payment jumped from $90 to $280 in one month, and the interest went from 7+% to 30%. They had paid on time for the past 8 years. Another one (or maybe the same one) dropped their limit from $20,000 to $13,000 one month, and they already had close to $18,000 charged on the card, so then they were hit with over-the-limit fees.

Yikes!! If that isn't incentive to get those evil cards paid off, I don't know what is!

So far behind, but lots of updates

January 3rd, 2009 at 03:31 pm

I've missed a few days here and I feel so far behind. Not only have I NOT wrapped up my 2008 spending and reviewed it all, but I haven't posted any 2009 goals either. It's been a whirlwind few days, some good but some very bad.

My dear MIL that I wrote about a week ago or so passed away on January 1. I visited her just 2 nights before that and thought she was doing pretty good. It all went downhill the next day though. We thought we'd have more time, so it's very hard on us all. She didn't suffer long, at least not that we know of. She was such a strong woman, not really ever complaining, so no one knows for sure if she was in constant pain before she finally went for the diagnosis just before Christmas.

~~~~

In brighter news, I went for a job interview that I think went very well. It was kind of a preliminary aptitude test, but they liked my scores and HR thought my background would be well-suited to the job. Keeping fingers crossed...

I also started a part-time job yesterday. It's just something to keep a little money flowing, but it will not sustain us long.

And, as part of my 2009 goals is to gain control over my weight problem and my horrible eating habits, I started a blog about that over on blogger. It's http://gainingcontrolovereating.blogspot.com/. I actually started it a week ago. Check it out!