One year ago today is when I started this blog. As I recall, I was busy digging under the couch cushions for spare change and rolling coins last year.
I've definitely tightened the spending belt considerably since then. I gave up cable, trimmed my grocery bill from more than $100 a week to $50 a week and generally turned into a frugal fanatic -- while still managing to enjoy my life.
If you'll look to your left, you'll notice that I've managed to carve $12,000 from my debt while socking away an additional $15,000. Not bad for one year.
Archive for March, 2008
One year ago today is when I started this blog. As I recall, I was busy digging under the couch cushions for spare change and rolling coins last year.
The state tax return came and my mother gave me $200 for my birthday last week, so I'm adding $236.44 to the challenge. The new total is $7,864.78.
Went to the dentist this morning for the achy tooth. The doctor cleaned it up and then shot the gum full of antibiotics to try to clear up some infection. He then referred me to a periodontist to most likely have the tooth yanked and an implant put in. I've secured an appointment for three weeks from now for the initial visit. I'm hoping to put off the BIG pain until after the new insurance kicks in this July....
Gil the Grocer came back with my missing bag of stuff. He felt bad that he messed up the order so he threw in some extra tater tots. Funny, because I never buy things like tater tots, but I wanted to make a tater tot casserole to see if Mini Me would possibly like it (she hates everything resembling food....).
My tooth is feeling better, so I might be able to hold off on the dentist a while longer.
And, I did manage to get six things listed on eBay today. I still have plenty left on the dining room table, though, so I'll get back on it later this week.
Gil the Grocer just made his weekly stop here and I ended up with $102.54 in groceries for $63.38 (including delivery) after coupons. Most of the stuff ended up in the basement mini mart since it was on sale, but not necessarily what we needed for this week's meals.
I am, however, having Gil redeliver a bag of things that he overlooked while unloading the truck, which is one of the negatives of having groceries delivered. At least if I'm doing the shopping and delivering, I have a pretty good chance that all my groceries will end up in MY house and not someone else's.....
I have been collecting stuff to post on eBay tomorrow and right now my dining room table looks like I'm holding a garage sale in my house. Here's what it looked like before I filled up the other side of the table:
My husband used to brew his own beer, but gave it up so he's given me all his brewing stuff to sell. I don't even know what half of it is. I don't want to push my luck with him, so I'm not going to point out to him that he could sell the stuff himself and put the money toward the new mattress he's been whining about.....
I got another freelance check in the mail today plus a Pinecone check, so I'm adding $700.50 to the challenge. The new total is $7,628.34.
My husband is itchin' to buy a new $3,000 memory foam mattress for our bed and I'm itchin' to pay down a credit card. He keeps asking me when we can buy the mattress. I was just sitting here trying to figure out how to distribute the freelance money (between savings and debt) and he started whining about the mattress again.
I think I'm going to have him sleep on the couch for a few nights, so he'll shut up about a new mattress and be happy with what we've got.....
Stop the presses!!!! The IRS wasn't joking. They deposited $2,641 into my checking account first thing this morning, so I'm putting that toward the challenge. Forget the measly buck I added earlier today. The new challenge total is $6,927.84.
Now if I could just get the state to cough up some money.....
I sold a pair of Mini Me's shoes on eBay for a buck so I'm adding that to the challenge. The new total is $4,286.84. (Hey, a buck is a buck, right....)
I decided to bid on the Japanese backpack that I mentioned the other day from eBay. I set my maximum bid at $75, but was outbid so I've decided it's simply not meant to be.
Speaking of eBay, my goal this week is to post a bunch of items for sale again. I took a week off to work on the spring cleaning, but have accumulated a pile of stuff and am gearing up for more sales.
I was sitting here thinkin "Hmmmm... I wonder when our tax refund might be showing up???" So I went down into the scary, dark basement and then into the even scarier domain known as my husband's office to dig out a copy of our tax return.
After quickly grabbing the tax return and running back up the stairs like I was being chased by a creepy guy wearing a hockey mask and wielding an axe while scary music was playing in the background (think Halloween), I logged into the IRS site and clicked on the link that said "Where's My Refund?" (Personally, I think the IRS needs to lighten up a bit by changing that link to "Where's My Refund, Jack?" or something else along those lines....)
After entering a bunch of stuff, I was told the refund should be deposited in the checking account on March 28. Hmmmm... isn't that like coming up???? Wait, that's TOMORROW!!!!
Life is good -- at least until I have to go back into the scary, dark basement to clean up the scary playroom later today.....
That pink streak is back ...
... from the art museum, which is one of the many stops we made yesterday while celebrating my birthday.
Mini Me had fun doing kid-friendly activities from an art pack we borrowed from the museum.
The pack was a "randoseru," which is a Japanese backpack for elementary-age children.
Mini Me loved it so this morning I went trolling on the web for one since her backpack is falling apart (you can actually see daylight if you look through the bottom of it). The best I could find was one on eBay for $119. I don't think soooooo......
Back to ME, ME, ME. ... Before we hit the art museum (where the pink streaks were taken as Mini Me hopped around trying to "pop" bubbles projected onto the floor in the contemporary collection), we went on a tour of the U.S. mint. It was a free tour so even though I thought Mini Me wouldn't be that into it, I figured it was a bargain worth checking out. Surprisingly, Mini Me loved it. She was particularly excited to see millions of unpressed coins being fed into presses, which then spit out shiny new pennies. (Sorry, no pictures. They strip you down to nothing before you go into the joint....)
Way before we hit the mint, we went to the local REI store with my dividend check and the $50 from my mother-in-law. I was able to get water shoes for myself and Mini Me with the dividend check, and with the $50 I got two wicked "wicking" shirts to workout in/sweat my way though the jungle beach vacation in.
We followed that up with a stop at Qdoba, where I was treated to a free lunch thanks to a coupon I got as part of their birthday club.
Fast forward to after the mint and museum, and Mini Me and I could be found at a Starbucks downtown snacking on mini scones and my favorite tea (plus a tall strawberries and cream with NO whip) -- all free with the gift cards I got in the mail the other day.
We then stopped in a local kid's clothing store where I bought two baby outfits on sale for a shower that I'm going to Sunday. The cost: $21.
We then continued our stroll down to an excellent seafood restaurant where we met up with my husband, who treated us to dinner and a flaming baked Alaska for dessert. (Cost unknown since he paid for it and I just sat back and ate my way through a mound of crab, lobster, shrimp, oysters and mussels.)
Overall, a very nice day.
My mother-in-law sent me $50 for my birthday, so I'm putting that toward the challenge -- and some clothes. The new total is $4,285.84.
I took Mini Me to see Horton Hears a Who since today is the first day of spring break. I had $9 left on an old gift card, so only had to pay 50 cents to get into the movie. However, we did get popocorn and drinks, which were the equivalent of the entire fiscal budget for a small island nation. I really should remember to sneak my own drinks and snacks into the theater next time we go. ...
On the way home, we stopped at Bed, Bath & Beyond to get a new shower curtain and towels for my husband's bathroom. He's been asking me to redecorate it for a while, so I've been hording the Laundry Fairy "droppings" to put toward it. We did get a good deal on towels that were 40 percent off.
(Yes, I have moved the spring cleaning into the bathrooms and let me tell you there is nothing worse than cleaning under a sink that hasn't seen the light of day in 10 years. If you should hear of an ebola outbreak in the U.S., you can assume it originated under my husband's sink.....)
The Easter bunny showed up at our house last night around 11:30, which is when Mini Me ran into our room because she thought she saw an Easter basket in the living room. We assured her that it wasn't Easter yet and that there was no basket in the living room, so she went back to sleep. About 20 minutes later, the Easter bunny snuck into the living room and relocated the Easter basket in case Mini Me decided to investigate further. Fortunately, she didn't and this morning she had no recollection of the incident, so the lore of Easter was preserved for yet another year. (One of the benefits of having a kid with memory issues....)
After a quick Easter egg hunt in our living room this morning and digging through a basket of snorkeling gear that the Easter bunny left Mini Me (the Easter bunny is nothing if not practical....), we went off to our annual Easter brunch at a nearby resort. (Yes, we are heathens who only go to church for funerals and weddings. Get over it. ...)
In addition to the great food at brunch, face painting, balloon art, and a visit with the Easter bunny himself, the resort held another egg hunt for kids. Being an old pro at this, Mini Me managed to load up her basket with candy in less than 3 minutes. Then she promptly shared her treasure with a set of twins, who arrived late on the scene.
After Mini Me's good deed for the day, we then trudged home where the rule for the afternoon was "eat all the candy you want, but let mommy and daddy rest for a couple hours." This went over well -- along with the Hannah Montana video mommy provided shortly before passing out in a heap on the bed.
By 2:30, though, we were up and on the road again. This time to pick up the crazy grandma who was returning from her Vegas getaway. Crazy grandma apparently spent 6 hours lost in the Venetian hotel yesterday. Fortunately, she was staying there with her other daughter (my sister) and son-in-law, and had plenty of quarters to feed into the slots while security was scouring the hotel grounds looking for her. Once found, rumor has it she insisted she wasn't lost and wasn't budging from the slot she was playing because she was sure it was going to pay off at any second.
After retrieving crazy grandma (my mother) and her entourage from the airport (where my sister tried to ditch crazy grandma again....), we all retreated to a local restaurant for a tasty Italian dinner. Still stuffed from brunch, I ended up bringing most of my dinner home to eat later this week. Plus, crazy grandma gave Mini me three shopping bags full of "stuff" -- including a big box of Ethel M chocolates -- and a quart-size Ziploc bag full of change that she hadn't gotten around to playing during her 6-hour slot machine binge yesterday while "lost."
With crazy grandma and her dog now safely reunited back at my childhood home, Mini Me is now in official sugar "quarantine" here at home. No sugar shall touch her lips again for the next 24 hours. She is downstairs playing in the basement Toys 'R Us (hate them....) while mommy is contemplating lying down on a heating pad (bad back aggravated by too much running, swimming, water lifting and kitchen cleaning).
So, happy Easter everyone. Hope your day was as fun as mine.
The mailman delivered two $5 Starbucks gift cards today. I had completely forgotten that they were the "gifts" I picked when I renewed our newspaper subscription earlier this month.
We also got a newsletter from my husband's employer that discusses some upcoming insurance changes. It looks like the dental plan we had, which never maxed out, is going away and they are adding implant coverage to two of the other plans. Even though I liked the plan that never maxed out because, well .... it never maxed out, I did not like the dentists that accepted the plan -- as you might recall from some of my rants. And, because I've had a troublesome tooth for years that will eventually require either a bridge or implant, the new plans look very appealing. Best of all, we'll be able to go back to our old dentists, who I absolutely adored, so I'm practically jumping for joy here.
I finished my massive spring cleaning project in the kitchen. The vinegar and baking soda cleaning solution did a decent job. I did have to bust out the all-purpose cleaner for the countertops and floors, though.
I didn't take "before" pictures, but thought you would all get a kick out of seeing the "after" shots. (Trust me, the "before" shots were scary...)
Mind you, it'll stay this nice for another hour. By the time we finish dinner, it'll be trashed again.
On a financial note, I had a no-spend day. Since I was determined to get the kitchen cleaned, I only left the house to go for a run and to pick Mini Me up at the bus stop.
I made a tuna fish sandwich for lunch and busted out the Pepsi from the trunk of my car. And, I'm roasting a chicken and veggies for dinner. I even made brownies for dessert. Just call me Martha.....
My mother sent me on an errand this afternoon. She wanted two cases of bottled water from Costco, but can't lift them so she asked me to get them and deliver them to her house when I return her dog, "Spud," who is staying with me while she jets off to Vegas this evening to gamble away our inheritance. ("Our" as in me and the dog's. And let's not get into the whole bottled water discussion. My mother is nearing 80 and isn't about ready to change her ways.... )
Being the good daughter that I am -- and in need of vinegar and baking soda for a massive project I'm tackling -- I went off to Costco for her.
While I was wrestling with the water, a guy was cleaning up his table where he had been giving out samples of liquid Tide. Apparently, he didn't want to pack up the samples because as I staggered by clutching my back he threw about 10 of the samples in my cart. Anyone who has priced Tide lately knows these little babies are the equivalent of liquid gold!
Back to that massive project I mentioned... I was inspired by the freaky mom at this site to do some spring cleaning. Of course, I'm a week behind her detailed "to do" list but I did spend an hour cleaning my refrigerator out today. (Exciting stuff, I know....)
I've never cleaned with baking soda and vinegar before, but I decided to give it a go. So far, I've only done the baking soda bit, but it worked wonders.
One would think all of this would be a moot point since I've got Hazel the Housekeeper covering my back, but alas I have decided that when I quit my job in May I will also let Hazel go -- unless I pick up a few more clients between now and then for the booming side business.
I haven't discussed the letting go of Hazel with my husband yet. It'll be interesting to see what his response will be when I hand him a mop and tell him to clean his own d*^# bathroom. ....
Aside from a $75 payment for my daughter's OT payment today, I spent no money. In fact, as I came home after my swim and volunteer gig, I thought a Pepsi would be good. Instead of going through the drive-thru, I dipped into the Pepsi stash in the trunk of the car.
On another topic, for two months we have not gotten a paper statement from my husband's Visa. Fortunately, I paid them anyways, but one of the payments was late because I couldn't remember the payment date and didn't have any old statements on hand. They've now charged us a late fee of $39 even though they acknowledge that they've been trying to send us paperless statements online and they haven't been going through and they understand this might be the cause of the late payment. Since they've acknowledged it could be their fault, I think we'll be having a little chat with them about refunding that late payment....
I didn't spend any money today. In fact, I saved $5 by complaining to the grocery store about a messed up delivery order and they agreed to refund half the delivery fee.
After going into the "office" job today to see what was going on, I'm now rethinking the whole quitting thing. Right now I am telling myself to give notice May 1 and be officially gone before the end of May instead of sticking it out through June.
I think I'm going to experiment the next two months by immediately pulling my paycheck from that job out of my checking account when I get paid and pretending I'm already down one income. This will help me figure out where I need to tighten the belt.
My husband and I have been having an ongoing discussion about whether I should quit the "office" job. (He wants me to quit....) We can easily meet our monthly income requirements between his job and my booming side business, and all our "benefits" are through his job, so the "office" job isn't a necessity.
Emotionally, I'm ready to quit, but mentally I keep putting it off because I like having that extra money each month guaranteed -- as opposed to having to go out and pimp myself to more clients for the booming side business.
If/when I do quit, a number of our expenses will go down. For instance, I won't have before- and after-school child care expenses (which is only averaging about $60 a month, so it's not huge but still a savings.) I also won't be paying for as much dry cleaning since the booming side business doesn't require even getting dressed if I don't want to. I'll be driving slightly less, so that means slightly less gas costs. And, Hazel the Housekeeper most likely will be let go since I'll need something to break up the days working at home, so pushing a vaccuum again might be in my future.
Not working at the "office" will allow me to have a life again. The booming side business has kind of consumed everything, so without the "office" job I can start working more regular hours at home instead of piecing together work hours here and there. I also can go back to being an anti-social/agoraphobic curmudgeon who rarely leaves the house, which is when I'm at my best.
I am now telling myself that I will give my 6 week notice on May 1. I'll be gone for about two of those weeks, so that's really 4 weeks notice. I could give them less notice, but I did tell someone I would help them out the last week of June so I figure I should stick to my word there.
Of course, I could come up with a thousand excuses not to quit between now and May, so this may all not come to pass but a girl can dream....
The mailwoman brought a check for the challenge in the amount of $360. The new total is $4,235.84.
I'm sure you're all dying to know why I've been so quiet for the last 24 hours. Well, to squelch any rumors that might be floating around out there, it's because there's simply not much going on here.
I didn't win the $200 million lottery jackpot. I haven't gotten any challenge additions this week (not even a measly buck left by the Laundry Fairy). And I haven't been spending up a storm.
I did splurge on a 12-pack of Pepsi for $3 today and put it in my trunk, so we'll see how far that goes in solving the impulsive trips in search of sugary, caffeine-laden drinks. Now my big concern is that I'll forget the Pepsi's in the car since I rarely go into the trunk. ...
I officially found out that Beauty of "Beauty and the Beast" fame is 5 pounds overweight. (I say "officially" because I knew she was packing on the pounds when she couldn't fit behind the bed anymore, but the vet "officially" told me this today. My response: who ISN'T 5 pounds overweight???)
So, now I'm either going to have to drag her out running with me (probably not likely given her short legs), or slap a "Wide Load" sign on her butt and leave it at that. (Where's my duct tape????)
At least once a year, I'm forced to dress up in something either than jeans and a t-shirt, and be my husband's Trophy Wife at a black-tie event related to his work.
In the past, I've gone shopping for gowns in January, which is when you'll usually find such things on sale. I've always lucked out and have never spent more than $100 on gowns that were originally much more than that.
Last year, I actually lucked out and came down with dysentery or some other cleaver excuse not to go (the exact nature of which currently escapes me). And, this year, I figured I would be off the hook since my husband switched jobs last summer.
Boy was I wrong. I now have two prom-like-events-for-the-geriatric-crowd coming up in the next month that require "formal" attire -- both of which involve me having to sit at a table with the same people, so wearing the same dress to both events won't work....
Aside from the fact that I didn't bother with my usual January gown shopping outing this year or last year, I've also put on a few pounds so I now either need to shed some weight fast, suck it up and invest in a new dress, or just suck it in and hope that nothing "pops."
The things we do for love.....
I anticipate that today will be a no-spend day. I have to put in an appearance at the office job this afternoon, so that will keep me out of the stores for about 4 hours. I ran this morning (found a penny in the road, by the way), took a shower, worked on the booming side business and ate lunch at home already (leftover chicken picatta and pasta from last night -- yummy). I have some tea and water ready to go with me in the car, so no need to hit any drive thrus on the way in. And dinner will be homemade tacos, which are quick and easy so I won't be tempted to take the family out to eat dinner because I'm too tired to cook. Then, more work on the booming side business tonight, so no time to dilly dally around any stores then either.
Given my impulsive/compulsive ways, it's important for me to keep track of the no-spend days, just like I keep track of every penny I spend. I will literally be sitting here minding my own business, slaving away to keep a roof over my head and the mood will hit me for a Coke or a cheesteak sandwich and off I'll go to buy one. That's how impulsive I am....
Which brings me to a dilemma I've been having lately. I only have pop when I'm out and do not keep it in my house. However, recently I thought I should buy a six-pack of something so I don't find myself making an impulsive trip down the street to get one (Thus avoiding the urge to pick up a cheesteak as well while I'm out and about.) Then I thought, maybe not because if it's in the house I'll drink more of it. Plus -- and this is a big plus -- I don't want Mini Me seeing me drinking it all the time -- or seeing it in the house -- because she rarely gets pop and I don't want to go down that road of having it readily available for her to ask for.
AGHGHHGHG!!!! The trials of motherhood....
I worked this morning at the booming side business, then swam a mile despite my low-grade cold and ran a couple errands. I am now barely able to stand upright and still need to pick up Mini Me in 7 minutes at the bus stop, then take her to karate, and pick up Beauty and Beast at the groomer's, come home to cook dinner and then work some more on the booming side business.
I really hope there's a check or something in the mail to give me a little boost....
After a month of stealing the neighbors' newspapers (kidding....), I renewed our subscriptions last week at the much lower rate and while doing so signed up to get two Sunday papers for the coupons. Today was the first day they came and after spending way too much time clipping and filing coupons, I've decided not to clip them from now on until I actually go to use them.
I've been storing them in baseball-card holders inside a notebook, but now I'm going to dig out an expandable file and just mark the date on the entire bundle of coupons each week and then take it from there.
My grocery savings this week were pretty much a wash because the Grocery Game folks said I would find two coupons in the paper today that weren't there so I ended up paying full price for the items -- plus I bought Tide on sale, which is like buying any other detergent at full price
I'm not sure if it's the time change or the slight cold I've got, but I ended up getting a whole lot o' nothing accomplished today. I did book the beach vacation early this morning, but from there the day went downhill as far as productivity. I got very little work done on the booming side business -- mainly because I was redoing something that someone else worked on before me and it was a mess that took forever to fix (GRRRR....) Of course, it probably didn't help that the whole family laid down for a nap after a late lunch and the nap turned into a two-hour snooze fest for my husband and I while the kid and dogs bounced on the bed every few minutes while watching Monsters Inc. for the 50th time this weekend. (Please don't send me any nastygrams for sleeping while my child and dogs were running amok. We were all in the same room, sober and watching/listening to a G-rated movie -- not exactly "quality time" for Mini Me, but I'm sure she'll get over it....)
This cold is just annoying enough to make me want to lie low for a few days, but I have a bunch of commitments this week so I don't think that's going to happen.
I promised I would put in a few appearances at the "office" this week. In my line of work, it's usually a bad thing to go in if you're sick but I'm not so blatantly sick that I should stay home (then there's the whole no play/no pay deal I agreed to, so financially it's at least to my advantage to "suit up" and show up for at least a couple minutes every now and then).
Mini Me's also got a "gallery opening" that I have to attend this week. Yes, at the tender age of 7, she is having her first art exhibit.... I don't know how it happened since her kindergarten teacher once questioned her artistic ability (to which I reminded the wench of Jackson Pollock and others who looked at the world through a different lens). But no matter now, because the little Picasso's artwork was chosen for a display at a local gallery -- a real gallery as opposed to the gallery on my refrigerator.
To give you some idea of what we're talking about, here's a self-portrait that she did, which I thought was so good that I got it framed and it's now hanging in the area between the kitchen and living room.
Woo Hoo! We're getting $2,700 back in tax money (told you we weren't mathematical geniuses....).
Now if I can just get onto the website to book our beach vacation.
My husband and Mini Me are off to see the accountant this morning while I head out to see what's going on in the "office" for a few hours. We think we'll get about $1,000 back on our taxes, but none of us are mathematical geniuses so who knows....
Assuming we don't owe a bunch, then tonight we're booking our cash-only beach vacation. It's OK if we owe a little because I've got a bunch of cash saved up for the trip, so we'll just scale it back a bit. Even Mini Me is excited about going to the beach. I used it as a bribe to get her out of bed this morning -- if you want to go to the beach in May, you need to get out of bed NOW!
I'll report back with either good or bad news later.
Oh, and I discovered a rock that the laundry fairy left me in the washing machine this morning. I wonder what that means....
Back when I was actively debting and running amok with the bucks, I "borrowed" from my various savings accounts for God-only-knows-what. For the most part, I didn't keep track of that money, but on my last bender I did. Now, thanks to the challenge, I'm paying myself back for the first time ever. I owe about $800 to myself from that last little mishap, so now that I've got other stuff covered I'm slowly chipping away at that "debt."
My challenge money is anything above the basic income I have detailed in my spending plan each month. When the challenge money comes in, I automatically put 25 percent into my tax savings account since the bulk of it is from my booming side business and I'm basically trying to cover my butt. The rest I divvy up between savings and extra debt payments. Since I've been making extra payments toward student loans and the credit cards lately, I've decided it's time to show my bank account a little love. For example, after I put $12.50 toward taxes from today's challenge money addition, I then added the remaining $37.50 into the trash account (trash as in trash pick-up).
I'm really loving the challenge. It's making me account for my money and as a result I'm being more responsible with it....
|<< Newer Entries||Older Entries >>|