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Viewing the 'Big Plans (and not so big ones too)' Category: Lizajane's Personal Finance Blog
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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.