<< Back to all Blogs
Login or Create your own free blog
Layout:
You are viewing: Main Page
 

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.