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ING Bonus here too!

January 16th, 2010 at 04:13 pm

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 01:43 pm

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 6th, 2010 at 06:21 am

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 06:11 pm

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

January 1st, 2010 at 04:55 am

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 Christmas Eve

December 25th, 2009 at 12:33 am

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!

Sick of clutter

December 14th, 2009 at 06:24 am

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.

I loved my mail today!

December 10th, 2009 at 02:27 am

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....

Too much clutter & coke rewards

November 8th, 2009 at 03:39 pm

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 07:49 pm

(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 7th, 2009 at 06:05 am

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 6th, 2009 at 03:50 am

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?

3 weeks since I posted

October 19th, 2009 at 12:47 am

I don't know what happened. I'm almost at my 1 year anniversary for blogging, and I just haven't been in the mood. Ok, even after I wrote that I "don't know what happened", I realized that wasn't exactly the truth. I really DO know what's happened. Our finances are a mess right now, and I am so depressed about it that I have no urge to document anything. I guess I've been hiding my head in the sand.

We're not able to pay extra on anything, and I know we are still spending more than we bring in. I haven't updated the sidebar debt because it's too ugly.

On the bright side, I did manage to finally catch up on documenting our spending and coupon savings and all that, hoping it would provide something positive to write about. The summary is:
Found on the ground - added a penny! woohoo!
Rebates & coupon savings came out quite nice. Since I had last updated those months ago, I was worried that we might have fallen off the track on the goal of keeping the grocery/household/dog food spending around $100 per week ($60 for dog food, $40 for food, etc). While we're above the $100 mark, the average per week has actually gone down from just over $110. That's some tiny progress, at least.

Also, I think I remember getting some Purina rebate coupons in the mail yesterday, but now I can't find them. I hope I didn't really lose them! It's 10 $7 coupons. They're really checks but they are used like coupons. That would be a really bad move on my part if I actually did lose them!

I haven't been doing as much with coupons as I used to. I had to get brake pads for my car today, so I stopped in the grocery store and flipped thru the coupons in the Sunday paper. There were some dog food ones, so I could make my money back on the paper plus some extra, but I just didn't see anything else that thrilled me. I didn't buy it, and I probably won't tomorrow either. I find myself doing that a lot lately. I just don't want to be bothered clipping.

I've got $20 in rebates to mail in on some antifreeze we bought, and I'll be trying to get that in the mail this week. I've had quite a few bigger rebates like that lately. When they are $5 or $10 each, they add up fast.

I've also been trying for weeks to list things on eBay & CL. It never becomes important enough for me to set aside time to get it done. DH gets mad already at the amount of time I spend on the computer, most of which is checking my emails, printing coupons from various sites, and reading some blogs. The minute I open up eBay or CL, he wants me to look up some obscure things for him or read him some of the items in the categories. Within 30 minutes, I'm about to fall asleep from the monotony of it, and I never get around to the SELLING!

~~~

After reading back thru this, it fits how I've been feeling lately. Up, down, up, down. There is no logical flow of thoughts, and it seems like things are very disjointed. I can focus on small details and spend hours tracking dollars & cents, and then feel like I accomplished something. But in the grand scheme of our life, it doesn't amount to a hill of beans. We have bigger things to resolve, and can't seem to come up with a real plan for solving them. Ugh!

I think I'll quit for now before I become a whiner. Oh....too late? Sorry!!!!

Pennies and dimes, and other tidbits

September 24th, 2009 at 04:51 am

Two or three days ago, I found a penny at one store and a dime at another. Yesterday, it was the same thing. I don't know what the significance of that is, but maybe third time is a charm and some wonderful luck (other than finding pocket change) will come my way. I'll keep looking!

A friend of a friend is supposedly interested in some of our horses, but they "need a week or so to get their money together." I used to get excited when people were interested like that, but not any more. It almost always translates into no action. If we had just 1/2 the money that's been supposedly coming our way from other interested people over the years, we'd be very very rich by now!

Turned down

September 4th, 2009 at 01:30 am

Our refinancing appliation was turned down by the loan company. "Turned down" sounds a tiny bit better than REJECTED! I'm so bummed. This was a different loan company located out of state that specializes in rural loans. We were hoping we could get it to go thru now, before our mortgage is up for renewal in March 2010.

It would have lowered our payments by close to $300/month. So....if we can afford it now (barely, but we don't tell them that), why wouldn't we be in a better position if we had a lower payment? I know, I know, it's just too risky for them.

I had to send a mountain of paperwork too - 3 years of tax returns and a lengthy application. They said they normally destroy the paperwork, but could send it back if requested. I told them to send it back so I don't have to re-copy everything again for the next place we try.

~~~~~

Just as I finally get around to making an entry, DH walked in and is looking for dinner. I don't have it ready since he was gone all day and gave me no idea when he'd be back. So, I guess I'll cut this short.

I found a penny today and another one yesterday. Maybe tomorrow will be my lucky day, and I'll find a million dollars somehow! (okay, we don't need that much, but a girl can dream)

Oh, my aching....everything

August 16th, 2009 at 02:40 pm

I worked like a dog yesterday. Ok, wait a minute, who came up with that saying? My dog lays around most of the time, sleeping, and that is most definitely NOT what I did!

I got up early and checked on a litter of puppies, noticed one bunch of horses needed water, filled their tank. Decided since I was already there, I might as well feed them. Then, fed another group as well just to get them out of the way for the day. Oops, part of their fence needed fixing. Since I was there anyhow, and had water going, might as well hook up another hose and water out farther. Well, since I was there, I might as well take them some grain. Oh, another group came up out of the field, I'll take them grain as well. Just one pen left, so I fed them. They're near the garden so I checked on the veges.

A quick glance told me I would have to make multiple trips if I gathered up armfuls so I found a box in one of our buildings and picked. An hour later, I carried in a banana box filled with squash, green beans, tomatoes and radishes. It was 9 am. I was starving for breakfast, and so happy to have accomplished all that!!

My plans were to prepare all the bounty for the freezer, do a little zucchini bread baking, get some laundry done, etc. But hubby had different plans. He needed some parts he'd ordered from town, so while he went one direction to get a pickup inspected so we could re-license it (6 months overdue!), I went to pick up the parts...and go to the bank, recycle, gas station, grocery store, and I think somewhere else. These were all not in my plan, but since I was going anyway, might as well.

Rather than keep all the veges, I bagged up two sacks of squash & green beans. One for my hairdresser who mentioned just this week she really liked zucchini bread but messed up the one batch she tried to make, and she didn't have any more zucchini. The second bag went to the man at the parts store. My hubby's family has brought them veges for many, many years, so he thought why not?

While I was making all the rounds, hubby called and said hurry home, we might need you to drive the hay truck. There were 350 square bales of hay to load. I came home, but found no one in the house. Rather than go look for them, I snuck in a quick 10-minute tidying & vacuuming session. I was dreading the hay, not because I would be driving, but because I know better. Hubby is in no physical condition to load the hay, so it would be me & DSS loading while hubby drove. I snuck in a quick trip to check on the puppies again, and cleaned up old hay in the barn where I knew we'd be stacking the new.

And then, we had an unusual stroke of lucky timing. Brother-in-law showed up with his trailer, not a total surprise, but he came at the right time. A cousin called & hubby told him to come on over. (He works for us, and had missed work yesterday, so he was checking to see if we needed him.) And, another guy & girl (late teens/early 20's) that come to clean stalls showed up much earlier than we expected. We were using the tractor they use already, so hubby offered to pay them to help with the hay. The young girl drove, and with 2 guys on the trailer, and the rest on the ground tossing the hay up onto the trailer for stacking, we were able to get thru it all in two trips and three hours. Actually my 2nd trip was different. I forked loose hay from broken bales onto a separate trailer while hubby drove.

The rest of the evening was then filled by a 2nd feeding of some of the horses, checking again on puppies, 2 loads of laundry, watering the garden, burning some trash, a little bit of lawn mowing, vege prep (for freezing this morning and making zucchini bread), and of course dinner.

Somewhere in there I tripped climbing thru a barbed wire fence, and my legs are slashed in about 5 places. That was getting to the burn barrel so I could burn trash.

Today, I am sore all over. Legs, arms, back, you name it. But I have a happy smile on my face that it all went so well yesterday, and that I personally accomplished a TON of stuff! Smile

I'm not quite so ambitious today, as all I've done so far is checked on the puppies, picked a few more veges, and checked in with you guys. But, I'm off to do the freezing & baking now. Horses & lawn mowing will come later, if it doesn't rain. Okay, wait, that didn't come out right. The horses get fed rain or shine. I would also like to organize my desk and figure out which stack of papers is to be filed and which is bills to be paid. That's kind of important, but I don't always prioritize in the right order, so it will probably wait for last.

Marathon paperwork is done!

August 13th, 2009 at 04:43 am

I just spent the last several days gathering information for a loan application to try to refinance. It's a lot of information to pull together, and it took me several evenings to dig through and find all the paperwork to pull the figures from. Now we just have to sit back and wait. Keep your fingers crossed, please. We really NEED this to go through!

When I went to the post office to mail everything, I pulled out an old, old Priority Mail stamp. I used to buy them 4 or 5 at a time, since I mailed invoices to a client. It was for $3.85 or $3.95, so that probably goes back 3 or 4 years. I tried to lick it and stick it to the envelope and it just fell off! LOL. The clerk glued it on and then added the extra postage needed. I've been waiting a long time to use up that stamp!! I had to dig around my office for about 15 minutes before I remembered where I put it. It was 15 minutes well spent.

~~~

I've found a few coins here & there lately, almost a penny a day. Now if only I weren't wasting several times that amount on snacks, it would be great. If I don't quit that and get my act together, I won't make my weight loss goal in the challenge I entered. Sometimes, it's as if my brain shuts out all the logical thoughts like "is this a need or a want?" and "will this bring you closer to your goals?". I can KNOW I'm sabotaging myself both financially and healthily, and the evil lizajane just wins out.

~~~~

I've had several thoughts of things I want to blog about lately, but haven't had time to sit down & do it. It's too late tonight for me to start anything requiring real thoughts. This is just a brain dump of things going on lately, so it requires almost no thought! I also am way behind on updating any of my totals, other than when I find money on the ground.

~~~~

Anyone check out the meteor showers the past few nights? I spent about 10 minutes outside around midnight last night and saw 2. I'd like to do it again, but I'm heading to bed instead.

Simple pleasures

July 11th, 2009 at 05:14 am

I've decided that I must be pretty easy to please. Aside from all the negative things that have been happening financially, I took simple pleasure in the past few weeks from:

1) a 25 cent teddy bear I bought at Walgreens to put on my desk at work. He makes me smile, so it was worth a quarter.

2) $2 shoes that I bought at the thrift store. I needed a better pair of black shoes for work. I tried on several different pairs, but none fit right. Then I saw this one other pair that wasn't my normal style. Kind of like clogs, because they have no back to them. Thick soles, sort of platform like, but not real tall. They were not my normal "style", if I really have one, but it felt like I was standing on a big thick cushion. They are the best!!! The comfort sold me totally, especially since my heel has been sore lately, either from a stone bruise or heel spur. I've worn them almost every day since at work and they are GREAT!!

3) a nickel I found on the ground at a quick shop. It was under the counter, sort of, where someone must have dropped it. One lousy nickel, the first money I've found in a month! But it made my day that day.

4) a free heart health screening. I paid for one of these back a few months ago, and then I saw a local hospital is having a free one at the end of the month. They measure height, weight, cholesterol, blood pressure, etc. This will be super, since I've been dieting and really trying to improve my eating habits (okay, except for the last week or so). I might try to lie to myself, but the numbers won't. I know the scale is down close to 9 pounds since I did the last screening. What I'm so interested to find out is whether I have improved my cholesterol levels, which were running a little high. They just HAVE to be better. I went from eating a lot of junk food to eating 2-3 fruits a day, cutting out a lot of starchy foods, and eating fresh veges more. Three more weeks to go until the screening. I hope to be down three more pounds by then, and I hope to see some improvements in all the measurements.

Wish me luck!!

Spent money for motivation

June 5th, 2009 at 02:53 am

Today I signed up for a weight loss challenge at work. I spent $10 to join, and set a goal to lose 15 pounds in 12 weeks. It's been HOW many weeks since the beginning of the year, since I've been trying off & on to lose weight, any weight! So far, no luck. So, why did I spend $10 on the same venture? I'm hoping the motivation of the prize money will keep me on track better. Everyone who meets their goal splits the prize, so I'm sure it won't be a huge prize. But it's still worth trying for, right? I celebrated my join-up by having a 3 Musketeers candy bar after my lunch today. Boy, was that good...but DUMB!

Our fridge is trying to quit on us. It did, more or less, but hubby might have temporarily nursed it back to health. We did a lot of coil cleaning, unplugged it, let some ice built up in the freezer melt, and plugged it back in, hoping that maybe some drain thing was plugged. I don't know. We did this one other time with another fridge and it only lasted an extra few weeks. Ugh! We've just about depleted the E-fund, so this will probably be a 2nd hand purchase at an auction, yard sale, craiglist or whatever. I don't know, though, don't they claim that the newer ones are much more efficient and save money for you in the long run?

After a long week with no findings, I spotted a quarter on the ground today at the grocery store. Mine! I also picked up a free plant at work today that someone had brought in to the break room. Yay! I'm almost ready to plant things in a flower bed we made, so this is perfect timing. And it's a perennial, so plant it once and be done with it - my favorite!


Excitement is building!!

April 26th, 2009 at 02:48 pm

I feel a little excitement building for May! I just updated the sidebar to show credit card debt as of May 1, and we're so close to going under $29,000! By the end of May we will be. I can remember posting just a few months ago when we went under 30K, and now we're almost under 29K. It's coming, it's coming!!

I wish there was more stretch in the budget to get this gone quicker, since right now I'm just paying a little over minimum due on these 3 cards. But, with this economy, and trying to readjust to a much-reduced income, we'll just keep going the way we are. I've been trying to add any found money, rebates, and a few dollars here and there to our savings which is pretty low right now. I can't really call it an emergency fund, since it wouldn't cover much of a true emergency, and I'm using the little extras to build it up rather than pay off debt. There is some cash set aside for specific yearly expenses such as property taxes, gifts, etc. If needed, we could rob from those, but I'd rather keep them separately identified so that the cash in those doesn't get used up and leave us hanging when those times come.

This, by the way, drives DH batty! When he wants to know where we are at, he doesn't want to hear we have $X in the checking, plus $A set aside for this, and $B set aside for that, and $C set aside for emergencies. He wants to know the total. I'm afraid that if I tell him the total, he will think that's available for expenses NOW, and it will leave us short later! Then we dissolve into the "discussion" (i.e., argument) about me not trusting him with the money. Agh! On the surface, that's probably what it feels like, and I don't mean it to, but I just have to explain that it is my way of feeling more secure and if I'm going to handle the finances, I HAVE to feel secure. We calm down after awhile, and life goes on.

Where was I before that little subconcious diversion? Oh, yes! I was happy to hear on one of the Suze Orman sessions on Oprah that she advised a caller to do exactly the same thing - in this economy, put aside her advice to pay down debt, and make sure to have a sizeable emergency fund established just in case. Her recession strategy is different than what she's always preached. I don't know why that makes me happy to hear that I thought of that on my own. I didn't really need her validation! For me, it just makes plain common sense. But, I have to admit, that the caller's circumstances were a little different. She was trying to decide what to do with a large tax refund that was roughly equal to her debt, and she had little to no savings. While it was tempting to pay off the debt, it would take her quite awhile to build up the savings by using the monthly credit card payment amount, and if she were to lose her job within just a few months, she wouldn't have enough accumulated to live off. I might have wondered the same thing in that situation.

Well, I'm out to enjoy the nice weather outside. Enjoy the rest of the weekend!

Changed my mind

April 25th, 2009 at 03:01 pm

I decided at the beginning of this week that I was going to spend NO MORE than $100 per week on groceries & dog food ($60 for dogs, and $40 for us). No more spending creep each week!!! That was until I checked my email early in the week and had a $15 off $60 purchase coupon from Petsmart. I went the first day and found my Purina Dog Chow on sale for $17.49 per bag. That's a super price!!! I quickly bought my $60+ worth. After coupons, it was under $50, so all was well. I did several grocery stops and came in just barely over my $40 allotment. And then I started thinking...

Did it really make sense to go back to spending full price next week, and the week after when I had these coupons available and it was on sale until Sunday? I went back two more times!!! So, while I way overspent my $100 allotment this week, I think it was a wise decision to strike while the iron was hot. Shopping for the next two weeks should be simple. I can spend $40 one week and $39 the next week, and with any luck the dog food will carry me well over into the following week.

I also changed my mind on one of the Walgreens items I purchased earlier in the week. It was for the Physician's Formula makeup - spend $10 or more and get $10 back from their monthly rebate. Well, I wasn't thinking clearly. I bought some on Wednesday with an Earth day 15% off coupon, and they took the 15% off their already 40% off sale price this week. But my purchase was under $10. For some reason, I was thinking it was free after rebate up to $10. So, my choices were to (1) buy more and register my receipts to get the $10 rebate, basically spending another $5 or $6, and getting about $25 worth of makeup for $4 or $5 after rebate, or (2) return what I'd bought. I don't NEED the makeup, so I chose option 2. The manager kept saying "no problem" but I really think he was a little ticked off at the reason I returned it.

It almost backfired on me too. The money was credited back to the Visa card I had put it on. Well, this Visa card was a rebate card from some purchase last year. I had just used up the last 76 cents on the rebate card earlier in the week, and almost threw it out. So glad I didn't!!! I guess that technically gives me another $7 to spend during the next two weeks if I have to go over the $40/week budget, since it brings down my spending this week on groceries to roughly $33.

I hope that as I focus on little things, bigger things will fall into place. I can't stop this nagging feeling that I spend so much time worrying about small money when I should be focusing on a much much bigger picture.

Sold some gold

April 16th, 2009 at 04:17 am

I took 2 rings to a jeweler today that was advertising they purchase gold. One was the old setting from my wedding ring (we had the diamonds reset into a newer nicer ring 2 or 3 years ago). It was just sitting there doing nothing so I cashed it in.

The second ring was one I found in a parking lot. I didn't think it was gold, but couldn't be sure, so I figured this was one way to find out. It wasn't. Bummer! I think it's a man's wedding band and, gold or not, it's still pretty nice but probably not worth much.

Anyhow, my 14k 1.7 pennyweight ring setting earned me almost $20. What's a pennyweight, you ask? So did I. It's a commonly used measurement in the U.S. jewelry industry, and there are 20 pennyweights in an ounce.

I'm planning to stash the $20 in my savings, to try to rebuild it just a little. I have another $30 I should transfer to savings also from my checking account. It was coin and rebate money that I deposited.

I'm always talking now about FAPDs. I'll have to see if there is a Cici's in my area, and go find some pennies!
http://www.moneysavingmom.com/money_saving_mom/2009/04/cic...

Frustrating morning

March 29th, 2009 at 06:08 pm

I had to take SS to a community service assignment this morning. I'd organized my coupons and grocery lists and planned on a leisurely morning after I dropped him off shopping. I had a magazine to read if I got done before he did (he was scheduled for 3 hours). Well, we arrived on time and waited around for 20 minutes. The "boss" didn't show, so we drove by his house and SS knocked on the door. A teenage kid answered the door and told him the man was sleeping, and that he'd call him later! (I personally think he ought to get credit for the hours he showed up to do; it was his last 3 hours. If they don't give him credit, we'll have to do this again next weekend - not fair to me!)

So, now I was no longer looking at leisurely shopping by myself. Bah humbug!

I crossed off two of the stops on my list, to shorten the trip. I'll go to those some day on my way home from work instead.

Stop #1 was Walgreens. I had my list and my coupons and a $10 Register Reward to use. I pulled it out and discovered it had expired yesterday. Crud!! The manager wouldn't let me use it so I didn't buy the 2/$5 pizzas they had on sale. I did buy everything else I was planning to get, but it wasn't quite as thrilling.

Stop #2 was Walmart. I had them price match the Walgreens price on the pizzas, and I picked up some other things. One of the items was a box of cereal that I have a rebate form to mail in and get my money back. I got out to the car and double checked the receipt to make sure everything was at the correct price and I noticed the amount column was blank on 2/3 of the receipt! I couldn't even tell what the total was to enter in my checkbook, so I took the receipt back in. At customer service they printed a duplicate copy, but it's just on regular computer paper, and not even a receipt that says Walmart on it. Oh, great, I won't be able to use that for my rebate either. I thanked the woman for giving me something to know how much to enter in my checkbook, but told her I'd probably be back some day this week to return & repurchase the cereal. I think she thought I was a PITA (pain in the a--), but I don't care. I couldn't bring myself to go out to the car and lug the cereal back in to do it right then, especially with SS waiting in the car.

Stop #3 was an auto parts store for some hydraulic fitting. They didn't have it.

Just not a good morning...

Where did February go?

March 1st, 2009 at 03:28 pm

It was almost 70 degrees here a few days ago, and now we have 3" of snow from yesterday. Go figure! I guess it was just a reminder that it is still winter technically, but I'm glad we're heading toward spring.

I had a productive day on Saturday:
* made batch of pancakes and froze them
* made batch of corn pancakes and froze them
* made 2 batches of cornbread for dinner
* fed all the critters (takes a few hours)
* updated Microsoft Money & grocery recap
* listed 2 items on CL
* reviewed BIL's receipts, etc for taxes

As I look back thru February, it's been a productive month too. Of the 12 items I listed on ebay, 8 sold and 3 are still running as 30-day fixed price listings. I had to do two refunds, unfortunately, so my ending profit is a low $20.11. Oh, well, it's $20 I didn't have earlier. I took care of car maintenance, listed our puppies for sale, finally set up that silly new shredder (took 5 minutes tops!), listed a few things on Craigslist, and completed other small things.

But the biggest accomplishments were (1) finding a job!! (2) investing in land nearby, and (3) surviving without a primary paycheck for a whole month without increasing our debt! This is HUGE!! Our savings is almost depleted, but I think we'll make it until the first paycheck that comes mid-March. I suppose this is all a little misleading since we did increase our debt with the land purchase, and that did take a hunk out of savings to come up with the required $$$ down, but that's investment debt, not credit card debt.

I have to say thank you to everyone on this site for their inspiration. Once I started reading and seeing examples how easy it was to start small but accumulate an EF, set aside money for expected expenses ahead of time, etc, that really helped prepare us for when I lost my job. So, THANK YOU ALL!!

I am very nervous how well we'll be able to handle expenses with the new job, though, since it is a much lower salary than what we were accusomed to. Once we get a little into it, I'll have to rethink the budget.

One humorous last note is that in an earlier blog, I mentioned an offer from Bass Pro to open a rewards visa card and with the first purchase I would get a $50 gift card. I didn't bite, since I don't go there much and don't need another Visa. Well, guess where I went Friday night? I forgot all about the offer, so for my purchase that I made for DH, I could have gotten a free $50!!!

Procrastination is making me crazy

February 26th, 2009 at 05:07 pm

I STILL have two things on my to-do list that have been lingering for a long time, even before I listed them in my blog last week. Why am I such a procrastinator? Here they are:
[ ] Set up my new crosscut shredder, purchased over a year ago
[ ] set up my new color printer, the one I so desperately wanted and bought on Black Friday

There, they are listed in black and white for the whole world to see. Who procrastinates for a year?! The reason the shredder is still in the box is that I have another (non-crosscut) one that works fine. But if I set up the new one, I can try selling the old on on ebay or CL, right? So, what is my holdup?

The reason the printer is still in the box is that I "haven't had time". Seriously, how long could it possibly take?

I will try to get these 2 things done today. I have several others on the list also:
[ ] register 1 horse (overdue also)
[ ] send for duplicate dog reg
[ ] haircut (have an appt, so I won't miss this!)
[ ] review BIL's taxes (if he shows up)
[ ] update Money and grocery spending log
[ ] list more ebay items ("more" is vague, but I'm not sure what I have left to sell)

As I look over this list, I can't imagine that the entire list, except for the ebay listing, will take me more than 5 hours. That would be a huge block of time, except I'm not working today, so I have NO EXCUSE!!

Here I go....but first I've got to wash dishes and get a meal ready and feed the horses...maybe this is why I never get to it! LOL

Stimulating the economy

February 25th, 2009 at 02:43 am

I did my part today. I went and had new tires put on my car, so I don't have to worry about having a flat. The old ones were very worn. Our cash flow isn't the best right now, but I think I can shuffle a few things to get this paid off by the time the credit card is due. This particular credit card is one I use often, but I pay in full every month since I set the money aside in the checking account as I use the card so there is no question about it.

I also took the car for a recall issue, and had that taken care of. Then, I accomplished about 10 other things on my list, stopping at various places along the way to pay bills and pick up some items. All in all, a very productive day!

Goals 1/2 accomplished, but don't check the math

February 19th, 2009 at 04:44 am

Well, of my 10 goals for today, I didn't do so well.

[x] Listed 9 items on ebay, instead of 10.
[x] Cancel phone service to my old business line.
[x] Advertise our puppies for sale, at least on one website
[x] Freecycled a few odds & ends


I blame it on my internet connection or my old desktop computer. S-L-O-W!!!! I did check with the phone company, but DSL is still not available in our area. I really doubt it will be, like ever. None of the neighbors are interested (lots of Amish), so it's just ME!

My list for tomorrow (some deja vu!):
[ ] List 2 more ebay items
[ ] update dog listings on our own website
[ ] list puppies on another 2 pet sits
[ ] Update listing and reduce price on our 6-month old puppy that had surgery. She has a scar but is otherwise good as gold.
[ ] Set up my new crosscut shredder, to free up the old non-crosscut for listing on ebay.
[ ] Send in rebates for free gloves for purchase of Rotella oil. I put my name on the form today, but that's it!
[ ] send in Purina weight circles to get $70 in checks back to use on future purchases.
[ ] cancel DH's health insurance. This is scary, but we can't afford it right now, and it will just be until insurance kicks in at my new job on 4/1. He has some coverage thru the VA, but his regular insurance went up to $778 per month! We'll keep mine in force, since it's a lot cheaper. I'm in better health, but I take care of the animals so there is more risk involved for me daily.
[ ] call my mother!
[ ] update Microsoft Money for last few days

DH doesn't want to advertise the beagle yet, in case someone in the area lost it. So, we'll wait on that.

My back hurts from sitting hunched over this computer almost all day. If I'm lucky enough to sell the 9 ebay items I listed, I might make $2 an hour!! I do it for the fun of it though, right? LOL

Odds & ends

February 18th, 2009 at 05:11 pm

Last week I was on a roll finding money in 5's ($5 one day, and then nickels). I'm doing better this week, now it's in 10's...unfortunately, not $10, but I did find a dime yesterday and a dime in CVS on Sunday. Actually yesterday the dime I found was only because I saw a few pennies on the ground first. I was at a scrap metal place with DSS and while he was unloading I spotted a few pennies. I felt weird, but I hopped out of the truck and picked them up. I got back in and studied what I thought might be a dime from about 10 feet away, but I wondered if they'd say something to me if I hopped out again and picked it up. Curiosity got the best of me when I had to get out to go give them my license, so I walked over to it. Sure enough, it was a dime. I picked it up and got back in the truck. Didn't I then see another penny right near the first two? I was starting to be embarrassed about my scroungy ways so I drove off & left it! LOL

DSS reimbursed me $10 for gas from his $270 haul. I wasn't really expecting it, so I guess that was my third "10" this week.

I came home to a $26.51 check from ebates for a few purchases last year, plus a $10 signup bonus and a $10 holiday bonus. (More 10's!!). I love ebates. I don't do a lot of online shopping so it accumulates slowly, but it's money I wouldn't have had otherwise. (see link on my sidebar for a more info...)

I've set some goals for today, and they are almost all related to money. I want to complete this list...we'll see how far I get. These are in no particular order.

[ ] List 10 items on ebay
[ ] Cancel phone service to my old business line. I won't need it with my new job.
[ ] Advertise our puppies for sale
[ ] Update listing and reduce price on our 6-month old puppy that had surgery. She has a scar but otherwise good as gold.
[ ] Advertise the beagle that showed up in our yard (FREE to good home). He's such a cutie but I know we can't keep him!
[ ] Freecycle a few odds & ends
[ ] Set up my new crosscut shredder, to free up the old non-crosscut for listing on ebay.
[ ] Send in rebates for free gloves for purchase of Rotella oil.
[ ] send in Purina weight circles to get $70 in checks back to use on future purchases.
[ ] cancel DH's health insurance. This is scary, but we can't afford it right now, and it will just be until insurance kicks in at my new job on 4/1. He has some coverage thru the VA, but his regular insurance went up to $778 per month! We'll keep mine in force, since it's a lot cheaper. I'm in better health, but I take care of the animals so there is more risk involved for me daily.

I think that's it. That's 10 things, and the day is almost half over and I've done none of them. Wish me luck!

A glorious, wonderful, fantastic JOB, with benefits!

February 11th, 2009 at 02:17 am

After several months of job hunting and 6 weeks without a job, I've now got one! I'm so happy. I know it's not a dream job, or even ideal income, but it is a far cry from where we were headed with just a filler part-time job. We might have a little breathing room now, and I can always supplement with something extra or even keep an eye out for a better opportunity. I'll just be happy to have benefits after many years of footing the bill for insurance and no time off with pay.

I'm still going to hold off on the 2009 budget until I actually determine how much my net income will be each pay period. Until then, we're winging it on what we have saved back, some savings bonds my mother bought way back when in my name that have matured, and miscellaneous income from selling some hay and whatever odds & ends we can come up with.

I have to get my butt in gear and list some things on eBay. I was planning to join disneysteve's challenge and have a goal of 10 listings per month rather than a dollar challenge. January I listed just one item that didn't sell. Not a great start to the year. I have some software, a shredder, a few books, some cosmetics, and a few odds & ends to list. What am I waiting for?!?!?!

Oddly enough, now that I have a job lined up, I may try to cram in all these things I wanted to do while I was unemployed but never got to. For some reason, my ambition to do all the things I'd been putting off before didn't kick in these past 6 weeks. I hope it does now!

I got DSS's taxes done today finally. He has a small federal and state refund, but will never see it. It will go to back taxes that he owes. He is not a responsible bill payer, and has gotten multiple letters from both fed & state and ignored them all. Likewise with some outstanding medical bills. I don't understand it, since my husband did not raise him that way. But, whatever, it's not our credit that is ruined, so we just let him "grow up" on his own.

Our taxes are the next thing to tackle. They are ugly - farm, rentals, partnership, and lots of forms. But, it must be done, and I want to wrap it all up and see if we owe anything. I'm sure it will be something, but hopefully not more than we have budgeted. Knowing is better than not knowing!

To all the SA-ers that are unemployed and searching, keep your chin up and I'll redirect all the positive thoughts that were sent my way by friends in your direction!

Found on the ground....and other updates

February 5th, 2009 at 04:22 am

I was pumping gas today when something that blew across the parking lot caught my eye, and it looked a whole lot like MONEY!! It was a $5 bill!! HOly cow!! I used to think I was lucky to find a dime or a quarter, but this was like winning lotto Smile

I'm way behind on blogging and reading and updating my grocery spending spreadsheet, and even updating my checkbook. I've been very busy working. I logged 60+ hours at my part time job for the last two weeks, and I'm happy about that, since there is no full-time job yet.

My full-time career is in IT and I've only been called for one interview. I'm waiting (not-so-patiently) to hear if they will hire me. I've applied at other companies also, but haven't been called for any interviews. It led me to the drastic step today of sending my resume to a recruiter for a position in one of the larger cities that is about 200 miles away. It's a shot in the dark, but since the recruiter thought I had a nice match for the skills, I decided to go for it. It would mean commuting back & forth from home every week and spending just weekends with DH. I'm not thrilled at all about that, but if it means we don't get further in debt and/or lose everything, I'll do it. It would be for a 6 month contract, with a possible expansion. I'm trying not to dwell on the emotional negative aspects of it, and instead thinking of it totally with a positive financial slant. The opportunity presented itself, so I must act on it!


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