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Archive for August, 2007

Pantry (Not Panty) Raid

August 31st, 2007 at 08:24 pm

First of all off topic that title makes me think about the time a civic group was doing a pantry raid at people's homes to get food for a needy family. It was announced as a panty raid instead. Amazing the difference one letter makes.

On topic I finally got around to doing an inventory of both the pantry and the freezer. I can truly see what items I need to pick up and what I have on hand to cook with. Both are fairly weel stocked. I hope to make it through the month of September spending about $50 on additional groceries. I vow to "shop" in the pantry and freezer first when planning my meals. We have way too much stuff stockpiled!

August No Spend Days

August 31st, 2007 at 08:20 pm

I think I ended up with about 12 no spend days for the month. Not quite as many as I wanted but still good. "Murphy" stopped by to visit too often this month. I am going to set a goal of 15 no spend days for September. I should be able to not shop for half of the month.

Catching Up

August 29th, 2007 at 08:38 pm

I seem to be playing catch up quite a bit lately. I was under the weather for a few days but am finally feeling better. I did some unnecessary spending today and stopped by Lowe's to pick up some fall flowers. The selection was not as good as I would have liked but I managed to find some mums. Fortunately these will come back each year so it was a long term gardening investment.

The past week has been more spendy than I like. The batteries in both vehicles quit so we had to purchase two new ones. Dh also had a tire to blow, but it was still under a partial warranty so that was only $40. He is going back to the doctor tomorrow to get more meds for poison (oak, ivy, who knows) and jelly fish stings that are getting worse not better. He is highly allergic to something in the woods, but he refuses to stay out of there.

On a bright note, none of the money has come out of the emergency fund. Although some of it has come from the extra that would have gone toward debt. Hopefully we will still have enough of the extra left to pay on the loans in two weeks. I really want to get the total under $7K.

Block Party

August 26th, 2007 at 06:48 pm

Dh and I threw a block party yesterday. We had invited around 100 people and about 50 actually came. I did not expect part of the people we invited to come, but we felt it was better to invite them. That way no one could say that we intentionally left them out.

We served hot dogs, chips, and drinks. Dessert was free ice cream, I won it in a contest. The ice cream was the main reason for the party, but we decided to throw in the rest. I think the total was about $80 and everyone had plenty to eat.

Everyone had a great time and decided that we should get together as a neighborhood more often. The cost was minimal as it was. I think with everyone chipping in a little, it could be done again.

Back from Vacation

August 24th, 2007 at 03:21 pm

Dh and I decided to sneak away for a few days. We had not gotten around to taking a vacation this summer. I went to the visitor's bureau website for our favorite beach town and found a great deal at a really nice resort. It is one we have looked at many times but could never afford. We got a standard room, which was like a regular hotel room only bigger and nicer. The resort had room service and restaurants, but we took our own food and ate in the room. We know someone who stayed at the same place last week but spend over twice what we did. It was a lovely getaway that did not break our budget. I signed up for their email specials so hopefully we can find as good a deal next year.

Today it is back to the real world though. I had gone grocery shopping before we left so the house was well stocked on our return. I am back to working on those debts.

MOMA

August 20th, 2007 at 03:09 pm

My tip is to separate wants from needs. Often I will see a shiny gadget in the kitchen store and decide I need it. Six months later I find that I have used it at most once. I am more strict now about what I really need!

First Real Estate Loan Payment

August 17th, 2007 at 03:12 pm

We made the first payment on the real estate loan we took out last month. Of course, part of it went to interest (almost $30). The large majority of it went toward the principal though. It was nice to see that initial drop. Hopefully it will drop much more next month. We took out a three year loan only to keep the payments very manageable in case something happened. Our goal all along was to pay more each month. We decided on a goal of 18 months to definitely pay it off, but we really want to pay it off in one year.

EBay Stuff

August 16th, 2007 at 07:59 pm

Well, out of the 10 items I listed on ebay only one sold. A few had watchers so I did relist those. The remainder will go in a local free ad paper. Many of the items were new clothes, but I wear a particularly small size and there are not many takers no matter where I try to sell them.

I have about 10 more items to list (baby things and larger new clothes my aunt gave me). After that I may hang it up with selling on eBay. For me I am not sure it is worth the time I put into it. The fees have gotten higher since the last time I sold. Hopefully this next round of stuff will do better.

Package Arrived and Some Spending

August 16th, 2007 at 07:25 pm

The package from FedEx arrived late yesterday, but early enough that my husband decided we could go grocery shopping. We did well with sticking to the list, and I actually spent only $80 rather than the $100 budgeted amount. I should put the extra toward debt. Instead I am going to keep it in case a good sale appears next week.

I have started back with my one big monthly shopping trip to Wal-Mart. I find the more I go in there the more I spend. By going once a month I cut out the impluse spending. I get produce and dairy items from a smaller grocery store with better quality items. Planning four weeks' worth of menus takes time but works out better for me.

I should have about $80 extra in the grocery budget for the month. If so I will use that to stock the pantry and hopefully lower the food bill even further for the next 3 months.

Waiting

August 15th, 2007 at 04:33 pm

I am expecting a delivery sometime between yesterday and tomorrow. I am stuck at home waiting for it as I need to be here when it is delivered. I was planning to go grocery shopping and run a few errands today. That most likely will get put off until Friday. Today will probably be another no spend day.

Catching up on Posting

August 14th, 2007 at 04:15 pm

I kept meaning to sit down and post but never quite found the time. The good news is that while I was busy, I was not busy shopping! In fact Saturday, Sunday, and Monday were all no spend days.

The temperatures cooled down a bit but are now on the way back up. I have already budgeted a larger amount for next month's electric bill so I am not worried about it. After this week the heat wave is supposed to break and things should get back to normal.

On the spending front though I am going to need a battery for my car. It just died all of a sudden with no warning. I have enough in the car repair fund to cover it though. The dead battery is one of the reasons for some no spend days. I am stuck at home so no temptations to go to the stores and shop.

We did end up with some extra money this month, which will be applied to the debts. Since I am on the subject of extra money, I have decided to teach piano lessons at a local private school one day a week. I have taught piano lessons in the past and enjoyed it. The school does not charge me a space rental so all of the money that I earn is mine. Having all of the students in one place is very convenient. I hope to get at least 10 students. This would be great in regards to paying off debt but would not tie me down too much.

We should be debt free in a year if this works out. I do not want to get ahead of myself, but it is nice to dream about. We are already saving any extra money (surveys, odd jobs, etc) but this will get us to our goal even faster.

Added Debt Totals

August 11th, 2007 at 07:54 pm

I decided to add in the amounts of just how much we owe. I thought it would be nice for me to see it every day as a bit more motivation to get it to zero. I want it to feel real and not just numbers on a bill somewhere.

Skipping the Salon to Save

August 11th, 2007 at 05:02 pm

I have only had my hair professionally colored once and that was because I changing the color completely. Normally I just do minor color changes so I do it myself at home. The total color change cost $70 so I am going to estimate that the minor coloring I am doing would be about $50. I pay about $5 for a box of hair color and do it myself. I have a savings of about $350 a year doing that. I guess I do a decent job as I recently had someone stop me to ask who does my hair color.

I tried doing the acrylic nails for a time, but it ruined my real nails. I do have strong nails normally and most people think they are fake. I do my own manicures and pedicures at home too. I have no idea what it would cost at a salon.

I never looked at either of these things as ways to save money. I think of them instead as things I am able to have only because I am doing them myself. There is nothing wrong with going to the salon. It is just that on my budget it would mean cutting something else. I am content to be my own colorist and manicurist.

Heat Index 115

August 10th, 2007 at 09:33 pm

I picked a very bad time to start checking my electric meter. I should start off by saying that I live in a part of the country where I am accustomed to high humidity. This might be pushing it though. It has been so hot outside this week that breathing is difficult. Currently we have an older house with only window units which are pretty much running 24/7. At this rate next month's electric bill will be double what I expect it to be this time of year. I guess the bright side is that since I am keeping up with how much electricity we are using I am also budgeting for it. I have estimated what the bill will be and can figure that into the budget.

Today is another no spend day for me. Other than a trip to the bank to make a deposit, I have been home. Dh and I had our budget meeting. We have set a goal to pay off the auto loan by the end of this year. That will most likely involve selling some stock which we have been discussing getting rid of anyway.

I do need to start a fund for vet care though, which may take a bit of money away from debt. Our newest addition will be needing shots soon and will need to be fixed sometime after the first of the year.

I am so looking forward to being out of this hole we have gotten into. Compared to others it is not bad at all, but it is frustrating nevertheless. I guess it is that frustration and desire that keeps me on track. Normal things that I would have just bought without thinking about I now leave in the store. Reading the other blogs really helps. I have gotten so many ideas and also great encouragement to stay on track. I can hardly wait to be debt free!

Day 3

August 9th, 2007 at 08:00 pm

Today is turning into my third no spend day of the month. Dh has spent the day cleaning out a spare room. I have been a bit lazier. My accomplishment is getting the eBay items listed. Now I wait.

I have never been one who felt the need to spend money. I know that I did it any way to some degree as I do not have a large savings yet. Dh has made a complete turn around during our marriage though. He always paid bills first but then spent every penny that was left over. It is great that he is now really excited about getting out of debt and saving money. We are forming a united front on this which certainly makes things easier.

Coupons

August 9th, 2007 at 01:04 am

I did some shopping today with coupons. I picked up kitty treats for my oldest cat. Next up dh and I stopped for ice cream using a birthday coupon I received. We got two Blizzards for the price of one, which was a nice treat for us. It was an unnecessary expense, but too much deprivation leads to excessive spending. I also had a coupon for $5 off my prescription at CVS. Last stop was the grocery store. The cashier seemed a bit miffed at the total after the coupons. I do not know why some people act as if the money is coming right out of their paychecks. I was thrilled with the price though. Part of our ability for me to stay home and still pay off our debts while saving money for house renovations is careful spending.

My Ebay Challenge

August 7th, 2007 at 10:43 pm

Last week I challenged myself to find 10 items to sell on eBay. I have found 10 things and have photographed them all. I will get them listed this week. Hopefully I can make $50 to add to the debt payoff. I am sure I can come up with a few more items to clear out. I have sold before, but I like to do it in small groups and not overload myself.

Spending to Earn and a Little Reward

August 7th, 2007 at 10:39 pm

All of my spending today was related to mystery shopping jobs so I will get the money back and then some. It will give some money to add to the debt in about a month. The wait to get paid is frustrating when you want to pay off debt, but that is an easy way for me to bring in some money.

I received a $25 Bass Pro gift card from MyPoints. It was earned I gave that to DH as a little surprise. When we decided to work on paying off the debt, he quit smoking. He had quit before but started back with all the stress of fertility treatments a few years back. Anyway he has been smoke free for two months now. I am proud of him and the budget is thankful as well as his lungs I am sure.

Summer Electric Bill

August 6th, 2007 at 10:03 pm

The electric bill arrived in the mail and it was $116, which is $16 more than I hoped. I do have extra money in the budget so I can do this with no problems. That does mean $16 less is going toward the debt though.

I believe it was Ima who had started checking her meter reading. I headed out to the meter myself and wrote down the reading. This month appears to be right on track with last month's use. I am going to adjust the budget for next month to $120. After that it should start to cool down a bit. When I am home alone, I can put off turning on the air until later in the afternoon. Dh has more days off now so that means the air gets run more. He does work out in the heat though so I can understand the desire to be cooler when he is home.

I am definitely going to keep an eye on the meter though and also try to find some ways to decrease the bill. We already use the energy saving light bulbs. I will start shutting the computer down at night to see if that helps any. I already dry clothes outside. I will have to research a bit for more ideas.

Budget Woes

August 5th, 2007 at 07:41 pm

I always tried to track the money but this is only my second month of following a budget. Somewhere along the line I lost $45. It was cash that never got deposited so who knows where it went. I did have extra money in the checking account, but that made the $$ cushion smaller. I will call that water under the bridge and try to keep a closer eye on where the money goes next month. Now I am debating on whether to put some of the money I have been saving up a)on the loans or b)on the checking account cushion. I do have $1,000 in another account for emergencies and have money set aside for all the bills. I am definitely leaning toward paying on the loans.

Can You Have Too Much Cereal?

August 5th, 2007 at 06:58 pm

Not if it is free! I did spend a little today but really ended up making money. I got up early for the sale at CVS. DH loves Honey Bunches of Oats, which was on sale 2/$4. The real sale part was that when you spend $20 you get $20 in extra bucks.

The look on the cashier's face when I wheeled up my cart filled with 10 boxes of cereal was priceless. I also bought toothpaste, which was free as well. I had $16 in extra bucks and only ended up paying $4.09 out of pocket after coupons. Dh has a two or three months worth of cereal and a tube of toothpaste, and I have $22.99 to spend at CVS. I try to keep the extra buck chain going so I always have some to spend.

Stretching the Food Budget

August 4th, 2007 at 07:10 pm

I am fortunate that my husband does not mind leftovers. Every now and then we have a clean out the fridge night. I am stretching an extra meal out of my menu plan this weekend though. Last night we had grilled steaks with a nice size piece leftover. I am going to make a steak salad for supper using up some odd and end veggies and lettuce. I cleaned out the refrigerator yesterday and threw out too much. I know we waste too much food, and this is one area of spending I want to stretch a bit further.

Interesting

August 3rd, 2007 at 06:53 pm

I never paid much attention to interest until I decided to seriously focus on paying off our debts. I knew it was there, but seeing the amounts each month is another story. The real estate loan has not added any interest yet, but I have figured that it will be a bit more than $30 a month. The auto loan is adding about $20 a month in interest. Now that I am watching the spending more closely, I am thinking of what I could do with $50 a month.

Instead of spending all my time whining, I am even more focused on paying off these debts. I could be earning interest on that $50 rather than paying it in as interest. My goal for this weekend is to find 10 items that I can sell on eBay. I will get those listed next week and have a bit money to add to the debt payoff.

First No Spend Day

August 2nd, 2007 at 09:08 pm

I never kept track of my no spend days, but I think it would be good to see how many I can get for the month of August. I am going to set a goal of 14 no spend days. It should not be too difficult. I would love to do more but am going to be a bit conservative the first time out.

Yesterday's Spending

August 2nd, 2007 at 03:36 pm

I had some planned and unplanned spending yesterday. The unplanned was a doctor's appointment as my allergies have been giving me a fit. We have a air purifier, and I did not realize how much it helped until it quit. Fortunately it is under warranty so it is being repaired. The doctor's appointment was $70 as I have not even gotten close to my deductible. The two prescriptions were generic so only $23 for those. DH went to the doctor two weeks ago, but we have not gotten the bill for that. It should be $77. I am trying to set up small accounts for expenses such as medical, car repair, and stuff like that. These medical expenses are causing problems since they are pulling money away from the debt. At least we have the money to pay for it. I was not expecting some magic budget formula and should know this is going to be an ongoing process.

After getting my prescription filled, I stopped by the grocery store. I spent about $50 there, but that covers two weeks worth of meals. All of the items were on sale and I stuck to my list. I did splurge on some steaks for dh to grill. Dh takes his lunch and snacks to work with him so that is included in the grocery budget. We have no great restaurants here so we end up eating at home most of the time.

I put $20 worth of gas in my car. I go to a station that gives you 2 cents off per gallon every day with their reward card. It was only a savings of 14 cents but I found 2 pennies so I really ended up with 16 cents.

All together it was much more spending that I hoped for. The rest of the week should be better though.

Shyly Peeking In

August 1st, 2007 at 09:26 pm

I have been reading the blogs for just over a month and have been very inspired by all of them. I decided that it was finally time to add one of my own. As it says on the side, I am a stay-at-home wife. I get quite a bit of grief for staying home without children. To be honest I have found we are saving more money and generally living better than when I was working. I am still trying to figure out what happened to my income all those years. At any rate we are happy so that is all that matters.

On the financial side in the past two months we have a mini-emergency fund built up. We paid off two credit cards. Well, it will be two as soon as the online payment posts today. The remainder of our debt is from two loans totalling about $7750. I have no goal date in mind to pay them off other than ASAP. I am starting to search for any money I can find to pay toward those.

The second goal after paying off those is to remodel and add onto our home. It is old and creaky, but I love it. It just needs some improvements. I also want a bigger emergency fund and more money going toward retirement as long term goals.

I do tend to be a rather chatty writer even though I am quiet in person. I think this will be fun. It is a refreshing change to see people trying to save money rather than being solely focused on spending.