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Archive for April, 2009

Tuppence....times two

April 28th, 2009 at 02:55 am

Yesterday I found 2 pennies, one at Walgreens and one at Walmart. Today, I found another 2 pennies, one at the auto parts store, and one right outside our front step. (Ok, I didn't really find it, DH told me it was there). I went out, in the rain, to pick it up! LOL

I spent all of my $40 that I was going to allot for groceries this week between yesterday and today. We will be out of bacon after tomorrow, out of milk in another few days, and I want to buy 10# of potatoes that are on sale for $1.77 thru tomorrow. So, alas, I can break my goals just as soon as I set them!

I looked back over my receipts to determine how I could have stuck to the goal better: (1) I could have put off the $5 Folgers coffee purchase at Walmart, since we aren't out, but I was afraid the price wouldn't last forever. (2) I could have used the coupon I had for the Folgers - didn't realize that I forgot it until now! (3) I could have skipped the 3 lb bag of frozen boneless skinless chicken breast for $3.97. It wasn't on the list, but it was a heck of a great price. (4) I could have just bought 2 packages of shredded cheese instead of 4, but the price was also great, just $1.19 each. (5) I could have, and should have, passed up the cookies for 99 cents. So, if I'd bypassed these deals, I would have still had $12-$13 in the grocery bucket, and that would have purchased the rest of the items for the week. I guess I can't pass up great deals!

Totally off topic, did you know that the boxes of aluminum foil, saran wrap, etc. all have little indentations on the end of the boxes that you can push in to keep the roll from falling out of the box? I read this in my last Redbook magazine (at least I think that's where I read it), and had to go look for myself. Who knew?!

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.

Some happy things

April 22nd, 2009 at 02:44 am

My last entry was quite depressing, so I'm forcing myself to look for things to be happy about or thankful for.

#1) It was a gorgeous day here today!

#2) I did my mile walk at lunch!

#3) I snagged some packing peanuts and bubble wrap on my way out to walk today at lunch! (It was set out for trash pickup)

#4) I got some great deals at the grocery stores I went to!

That would have been it, but I have to now add:

#5) I am not allergic to wasps! A VERY good thing, considering I just got stung as I sit here at the computer. I put my arm on the armrest of the chair and BAM, it got me! I jumped up, freaked out because I couldn't see it anywhere, and DH said it was on my back. He tried to swat it away, and in the scared little wasper's break for freedom, it hit me on the side of the face, and BAM AGAIN! Those little buggers sure do hurt. It's been about 30 minutes and still tingles/hurts quite a bit.

Reminds me of a silly little joke....what did the bug say when it hit the windshield??

"Ain't got the guts to do that again!"

(The wasp doesn't either. I squashed him good!)

Down in the dumps

April 19th, 2009 at 11:50 pm

After a few weeks of not recording all our expenses, I finally caught up again this weekend. And it stinks! I am very depressed about it all. With my forced job change, our income is not enough to cover our expenses. I thought we were keeping things under pretty tight control; instead, We've managed to spend all the extra money we came up with earlier in the month from some unusual windfalls. What are we going to do the rest of the months?!

I don't want to reveal too much of our personal details, but many of our expenses are farm-related, and it's not like we can really plan those. I mean, to some extent, we can average the expenses that we've had in the past, but with less income now, we can't set aside the money because we don't have it to set aside! The farm does not pay for itself in any way, shape or form. When things break down, they need to be fixed. DH isn't able to do a lot of what needs to be done, so we have employees hired. I think we need major adjustments but I don't think DH is ready to commit to those. He sort of jokingly asked today, "so what do you want to do, sell everything and start over and buy a house on the lake?" "Yes!!! I would love that. It would get us out of this money pit that we're in." But, it was just that - a joke to him. He wasn't serious. I am. I want to sell everything and reorganize our life to make it more jointly enjoyable, less stressful, and financially workable. And I don't care if it's by a lake or not.

I may try to bring this up again another time, but it's so tricky to do that. DH reads so much more into things like that than he should. He says things like "you hate it here" and "you're just sick of me". No, and no, but I am sick of all the stress that we have currently. He is too, but he wants to figure out something that will bring in more steady income from the farm. That would be great, but it requires spending money to make money and we don't have it to spend!

If you made it this far, thanks for reading. This is one of my PMS-induced mood swings, I'm sure. As I reread the last paragraph, it's full of "buts", which will just come across as excuses. Maybe they are. Tomorrow, I'll be back at work, and will be able to push these blues back somewhere beneath the surface. We'll find a way to survive the finances, because something will sell and we have some money saved back. My problem is that I don't want to rely on those things to get thru each month.

This is part of the reason I never updated my goals on the sidebar. What would they say? #1 - work some magic. #2 - get old job back. #3 - pray. So, waaaahhh, I feel better actually after writing all this down. I still don't know exactly what we're going to do about it. We did, however, take one action step today, and filled out info on LendingTree to see if we can refinance our mortgage. That's a teeny amount of progress, I suppose.

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!

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Bills, bills and more bills

April 14th, 2009 at 01:06 am

I am dreading paying our bills, but I've got to get to it today or tomorrow. Two credit cards, payroll tax deposit, vet bill, lawyer, life insurance, telephone, electricity, VA prescriptions, and I'm sure I'm forgetting something.

We should have enough to cover them all, that's not the problem. I just hate to part with the hard-earned money. It just seems like it comes in one day, and goes out the next..and the next...and the next. And I think the money that goes out is going to outweigh the money coming in, but I put it off because I hate to look. I know it's dumb, but that's the way I look at it.

Another FAPD, big garage sale, and Happy Easter!

April 13th, 2009 at 04:22 am

I found another penny on the ground recently, although I can't remember which day it was now. I remember thinking how I'd been on a roll finding change here and there, and hadn't in a few days. Within 15 minutes of that thought, I was in line at Dollar General and glanced down and there it was!

Yesterday I went to a big garage sale in our town. There were TONS of clothes, which normally doesn't lure me in, but there were so many cars there I figured there must be other good stuff. There was quite a bit, and I did look thru the clothes but came up empty handed. Everything was name brand, nice stuff, although tossed on tables in random piles makes even the nice stuff look raggy. I found two purses that I think might resell on eBay. Nothing fancy like Coach or anything like that, but I wouldn't touch one with a 10-foot pole at a yard sale unless I was planning to carry it myself. Too many ways to get in trouble on eBay if it was fake.

Happy Easter to all who celebrate. We had a nice feast today, and great chit-chat. I wish there was one more weekend day to recuperate, since I spent this whole day cleaning and cooking. I'd like a 2nd true "day off", please! Saturday was nice and relaxing, and I want another one of those!!

Had a FAP day? Or is it FAPD?

April 8th, 2009 at 03:33 am

We have NSD for No Spend Day, so how about FAPD for "Found a Penny Day"? Whatever would be the correct acronym, I had one of those again today! Smile

I was working my deals at Walgreens, and I always go past the aisle endcap where they have clearance items. I didn't spot it right away until I bent down to look closer at the bottom shelf, and there it was waiting for me. Tails down, but still a penny!

Today's find

April 7th, 2009 at 03:55 am

I stopped at the grocery store today for a few items. As the cashier rang up my order, I glanced at the end of the counter near the bagger and saw someone had tossed down their receipt and a register coupon. I picked it up expecting it to be a "save $1 when you buy 5" of some high-priced thing that nobody would ever buy five of at the same time, but it was WAY better than that!

It was a "thanks for buying coffee, save $1.50 off your next order"!!!!! I couldn't believe it. It didn't go thru when the cashier scanned it (it was probably only meant for the original store card owner), but she punched it in anyway. My lucky day! I checked the receipt to see what kind of coffee the person who didn't need to save $1.50 bought, and it was Starbucks coffee. Figures!

What's the matter with these people?

April 6th, 2009 at 12:29 am

I went to an auction yesterday with DH. Nothing was of interest to me, but I usually go with him to auctions and I'm never bored. People watching fascinates me, and I'm always interested to see what prices things bring. Plus, I was planning to walk around a lot, since lately I've been trying to go for a walk several times a week. Although it wasn't walking fast enough to raise my heart rate, it was still walking and therefore exercise in my book.

Well, to keep it frugal and healthy (trying to lose weight...AGAIN!), I brought our lunches. It worked out great. No bland, tasteless $3.50 hamburger from the vendor. Actually sometimes they are pretty good, but do you know how much ground beef I could buy for that? That's what always ruins the taste for me.

I jokingly said to DH after the sale, "what's the matter with these people? I looked and looked all day, and didn't find any dropped money on the ground! Not even a lousy penny!" But, then, we stopped at a grocery store on the way home, and I found a penny in the parking lot. You would have thought it was a gold nugget. Aloud, I said, "HA! I'm rich!" I was near the car and the window was open so I said it for DH's benefit, but I wonder how many other people looked at me kind of funny. It makes me laugh again today just thinking about it. I'm glad I amuse myself!

Monthly grocery update

April 4th, 2009 at 12:59 pm

I used to blog weekly about my progress with using coupons on groceries (the loose term I use for people food, dog food, and household products). I've gotten out of that habit, but I still track it, so I thought I'd recap the month of March instead. This is actually as of March 28th.

My original goal at the beginning of the year was to keep it around $100 each week. That worked for a bit, but became a little unrealistic when I increased my purchase of puppy food to accommodate a new litter. I guess that's still my goal, but since a goal should really be attainable, I've relaxed my standards a little.

Week 1: This one really blew the budget.
For groceries and household products, the total before coupons was $191.65. After a 59% coupon savings of $114.00, the actual cash spent was $77.65. Not too bad. For dog food, though, it was $120.11 less just $7.73 in coupons, leaving the total at $112.38. For everything combined, that's $311.76 less $121.73 coupons (39%), leaving $190.03 out of pocket. Holy cow!! That jumped my average for the year from $109/week to $117/week.

Week 2: Who could possibly need ANYTHING after last week's spending? Well, that would be us. Groceries/household was $139.63, less 63% coupons totalling $87.81, leaving $51.82 actual cash. Dog food added another $32.40 but I had no coupons. The sum was $172.03 before, $87.81 coupons (51%), and $84.22 out of pocket.

Week 3: $69.79 before coupons, a paltry $11.07 in coupons (16%), leaving $58.72 spent for groceries/household. Dog food purchases were $120.98, less $18 coupons (15%), leaving $102.98. That's a combined total of $190.77 before coupons, $29.07 in coupons, and $161.70 spent.

Week 4: Our people food was $77.37 before coupons, a paltry 10% in coupons of $7.37, leaving $70 in cash spent. Dog food was $75.79, but a nice $26 in coupons, leaving $49.79 spent. Overall was $153.16, less $33.37 coupons, ending with $119.79. The new average is now roughly $118.47 each week.

The good news is that we sold two of the puppies, so that more than makes up for the increase in spending to accommodate their extra feeding needs. I can't say that for us though. It just seems to me that food & household spending for two people should be closer to $40 each week and not $60. I guess that's something to work on for the rest of the year.

Rebate jackpot!

April 4th, 2009 at 03:12 am

Since the beginning of the year I haven't seen many rebates worth sending in, until lately. Yesterday I mailed off one for Kellogg's All Bran Strawberry Medley cereal, for my $3.56 purchase price. It's delicious cereal, I've discovered, but I really only bought it because of the full rebate.

I mailed a second one for Sargento Finishers. I should get another $3.99 from that one. Then, I had a third one for Grande tortilla chips. I looked everywhere for them, and finally saw one bag on the shelf in a local store so I snagged it. I know I looked there before, but this was just my lucky day. I was just a few days away from tossing the rebate form since I originally couldn't find them. Anyhow, that will net $3.49 back.

Today, I filled out one for Nestle Toll House Caramel Filled Cookes. That will get me $2.48 back, although I'm not sure the 10 pounds I probably gained eating them are worth that!

Last but not least I have a $10 one to do for pizza and other stuff I've bought lately. The rebate is from Budweiser. I think that's it, but that's none too shabby: $23.52 for all of them. After the tax and postage I've paid, my gain is probably about $20. It's really just reimbursement for what I've already spent, but that's quite a bit of free food.