Thursday, December 27, 2007

Christmas wrap up and 2008 goals....

Well, I did it! I spent much, much less on all Christmas gifts than I had anticipated and I feel great about it! I bought gifts for 19 people including 2 that received both Christmas and Birthday gifts, along with all the stocking stuffers and came in at just under $650! I'm quite pleased with this number as I took advantage of several coupons and shopping reward programs. I'm hoping next year to do even better with that aspect of things. I need to be a better planner for next Christmas and work on getting things done sooner. Haste makes waste and in this case that happened for sure. I know I could have done better if I had started sooner. Must work on this for next year!!

As for 2008, I have given a lot of thought to my goals and although I haven't outlined my plan yet for reaching them, these are the things I am thinking of:

  • I am going to fully fund my Roth IRA and again the full match amount from my employer to my Simple IRA.
  • I will continue to stay consumer debt free and I will bring my cash savings up to $10,000.
  • I will keep paying extra on my mortgage each month to drop PMI as soon as possible!

I have my spreadsheet ready and will track everything as the year progresses! Doing this really helps me keep my eye on it. I will spend the next couple of days strategizing how I am going to make these things happen, I may have to alter the goals a little, but I will see how it all plans out.

I wish everyone a very happy, healthy and prosperous new year.....

Saturday, December 22, 2007

The shopping is done....

Yeah!! I am so happy that it is only the 22nd and my shopping is done!! I have nothing to do but relax until Christmas eve and fully enjoy the holidays! OK, I still have to buy some flowers to take to the cemetery, and I have to buy those the day of, but otherwise, I am completely done! I'm quite pleased that I can sit back and do absolutely nothing if that is what I choose. :) I'm still going to wait until the 26th to add up all the costs, just in case something has slipped my mind and I think of it right before the big day. I don't want to jump the gun thinking that I am done with my holiday spending and then be let down when something comes up. Keeping my fingers crossed that isn't the case, and I really don't think it is.

May you all have a very Merry Christmas and a very happy new year!

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Lunch

Today is a rainy, cold, blustery day and I didn't bring my lunch to work. All morning I was thinking about how I really, really didn't want to go out and get something for lunch, but I have to eat darn it! So, a few minutes after lunch started and I'm still sitting at my desk contemplating leaving or suddenly going on a diet :), I remembered that I have a can of chili in my desk that would be just dandy for lunch today! Thank goodness it was there because I really didn't want to go out in the rain, but even worse, I didn't want to go out and spend any money! Does that make me cheap? I'm OK if it does! ;) I knew that tonight I would be going straight home from work and wouldn't be spending any money. There's something to be said for having a day when no money leaves your wallet. This time of year they are few and far between, so I was ecstatic about a can of chili! Seems silly doesn't it?! Oh well, I'll certainly enjoy this day of spending no money! Hope you all have a day like that too!

Monday, December 17, 2007

Things are coming together

The long shopping day really turned out well. I have almost all of the shopping done, with the exception of one movie for my nephew that isn't for sale until tomorrow. And the last few stocking stuffers that still need to be found. Hoping to have that done tomorrow when my brother and I go out shopping. All of the baking is done and has been delivered to recipients. :) I've even been to the zoo to see all the light displays. I feel so organized and ahead of the game now, I'm starting to doubt myself and wondering if I have forgotten something. I even got most of my baking supplies paid for by work as I will be bringing in a big platter of treats for Friday's office party. I'm definitely coming out money ahead this year and am planning on putting more money away for retirement before the month is over. I took advantage of a Costco rebate check I had to buy my nephew a game he has been wanting for his Nintendo DS, ended up only costing me about $8! :) I've also used my ebates rebate check to help fund my Christmas shopping this year. I've been saving all of my receipts and am looking forward to seeing just how much money I will have spent on the holidays this year. I'll let you all know on the 26th where I came in on the Christmas budget. Until then, I will continue to try to not spend too much money, but more importantly, I will enjoy the holidays. I hope you all will too.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Christmas shopping will be done.......

SOON! Tomorrow I have the day off from work to go and do the marathon shopping day with my mom and sister in law. I have my list of everyone I need to buy for, along with several ideas for each. Thankfully my brother/sister in law and I do not exchange gifts, we just do stocking stuffers anymore. :) I love stockings! You can get some of the greatest stuff in there! I really only have to buy for my Godmother, Grandma, Friend (both Christmas and birthday gifts), finish off a gift for a co-worker and my niece and nephew! That's not bad!

Besides the shopping trip tomorrow, I have one other evening of shopping planned with my brother. This is a tradition that started when we were kids, my dad would always take us shopping on a school night, we would shop really late, probably until about 8:30, which seemed really late to an 8 year old, then we would go out for dinner. It was so fun to go shopping just the 3 of us! Well, since my dad passed away 16 years ago, my brother and I still carry on the tradition and it's still so much fun! That is the night I hope to complete the rest of my shopping, and hoping to not have to go to the mall again until after the holidays!

I have also decided to use my bonus and money from my Grandma to buy some new clothes. But should I wait until after Christmas to buy these and hopefully take advantage of the after Christmas sales, or do I buy something now if I see it and like it? I am in desperate need of some new clothes, I realized this morning that this is the 4th day this week I have stood in front of my closet and have had such a hard time trying to find something to wear. Of course it would help if I would take that stack of clothes to the dry cleaners and get them back, but it would also be nice to have something to wear in my closet that doesn't need to be dry cleaned. What's a girl to do????

Monday, December 10, 2007

A hodgepodge of things....

First of all, the Christmas party on Friday night was amazing! It was at the Seattle Golf Club, which was so decked out in the finest decorations and looked absolutely beautiful! My date was a friend of mine, it was his company Christmas party, and we had so much fun! The food was excellent, and the evening was awesome. I think it helped put me in the Christmas spirit a little bit more. I have been feeling kind of down about the holidays since I don't have a boyfriend this year and after the past 3 Christmases with the same boyfriend, I was thinking this one was going to stink! But I am feeling much better now!

Going to a party like this with a friend was a lot of fun and got me to thinking about not having a boyfriend this year and how much less pressure there is. My shopping list is drastically reduced in size this year compared to the past several years. My ex-boyfriends birthday was on Christmas day, so I really had to do double duty with the shopping, not to mention all of his family. I'm curious to see where I end up on my Christmas budget this year, I think I will be amazed at how much money I am saving by being single! And you know I've got to like that this whole thing is saving me some money! What to do with all this extra cash!?! Hmm, maybe I better just wait and see how much extra cash this really is before I start coming up with grand ideas of what to do with it. Ha!

I am getting ready to do my holiday baking this coming weekend and started to realize I don't have to bake nearly as much this year as in the past, again because there is no boyfriend and boyfriend's family expecting my homemade treats! That makes me very happy, because I have to admit, I was starting to feel like it was expected of me to make all this stuff. I will make a platter of homemade treats for the office party, but those guys don't care if there is less variety, as long as there is a lot of it. It's easy to double and triple recipes when you are already going to the trouble of making something, so it won't really be that much extra work. Actually less work in the long run than coming up with several items.

And then the Christmas bonus will be coming in on the 21st. I wonder how much it will be? Last year it was $250, I'm hoping for at least that much this year if not more. I'll keep you posted on that front.

And now for my 2007 income grand total coming from online surveys..............$493.90. Not bad for not really that much of my time this past year. Hopefully next year this income will increase even more. In the last few months I have been logging in almost daily to the survey sites I participate in and I think the amount of survey invitations for me has increased just from this couple of minutes of time. In fact 62% of that income has come since I started logging on daily and that was just at the end of September that I started doing that. Might be something to think about if you happen to participate in any survey sites.

I can't believe how quickly 2007 is coming to an end and that it will be 2008 in just a few short weeks. I'm doing my best to really enjoy the holiday season and wishing happy holidays to everyone........

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Goals to finish out the year...

Well, last month I didn't budget, but just tracked my spending. For me, I think I spent less knowing that I had to track every penny than when I have certain allotments in each category to spend. I have decided to track again for the month of December and see where I end up. I pay myself first, then if there is money left at the end of the month, I pay myself again. This is proving to work pretty well for me.

My year end goal of having my net worth up to $70,000 isn't going to happen, damn it! But, I should definitely be able to have my cash savings up over $7,000. I haven't narrowed down my 2008 goals yet, but I have been giving them a lot of thought. I will continue to put the 3% in from my paycheck that company matches to the Simple IRA. Why wouldn't I, it's like free money! :) And I would really like to be able to contribute the full $5,000 to my Roth IRA as well. Other than that, I'm not sure what I am hoping to achiever financially speaking. Aside from finances, I have decided that 2008 will be another year for me to train for and run a marathon. Not sure if it will be Portland again, or if I want to try something else. I have thought about Maui, but I don't know. I think I need to spend some time researching different marathons and hopefully have my mind up by the end of February.

I have FINALLY gotten on my shopping for Christmas and just a couple of minutes ago the mail carrier just picked up one of the packages that I have to mail! yeah! I'm on my way. My mom, sister in law and I are all taking the day off from work on 12/14 for our marathon shopping day! We will head out about 8:00am and usually don't get home until midnight or so! Hopefully that day I can get the rest of my stuff done. I really don't have all that much to do, it's just getting to it. I have one more gift that I have to mail, so I really need to get that one taken care of in the next couple of days, hopefully I can mail it out on Monday.

I am going to a black tie Christmas party on Friday night, I'm very excited! I am going to wear a dress I already have along with the shoes, nylons, and all accessories, I don't have to buy anything for the evening! Yeah! Should be fun!

How is December looking for everyone else?

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

So much going on.....

Sorry I haven't posted since before Thanksgiving! Where has the time gone? I can't believe we are so close to December already! Well, my month of not budgeting has gone fairly well. I only spent $60 on gas and $52 on eating out. Groceries were $124, but that was feeding extra people, my turn to prepare the main dish for tailgating and making food for Thanksgiving dinner, so I am pretty pleased with how this came out.

I have been working WAY too much and therefore have been coming home, eating cereal or soup and calling it a night early, only to get up early the next day and do it all again many times over. This is one of those times I wish I had a job where I was paid hourly instead of salary! I would have earned SO much overtime this month! Oh well! It should all pay off when it rolls around to my review and raise time.

I have had 11 no spend days so far this month which makes me very happy. I'm sure I won't have nearly that many in December what with all the Christmas shopping I will be doing. Speaking of Christmas shopping, I still haven't done much about this. I have my list of what I am going to get everyone, I just can't seem to muster up the energy to get out there and shop. Anyone else having trouble with this too? I was at the mall one Saturday this month and it was so crazy busy in there I vowed that I would only be going out there during the week after work. So far, that plan hasn't worked, but maybe next week! I just need to take my list and go to it.

Over the holiday weekend I did get my tree up and all decorated, it looks great and I love coming home and turning on the Christmas tree lights. ;)

I have to go out shopping still for a baby shower gift for this Saturday, maybe I can knock a few things off my Christmas list while I am at it. Wish me luck!

I hope November was a good month for everyone and that you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving holiday. Gotta run now, I'm at work and must get back to it. :)

Monday, November 19, 2007

Spending so far this month...

Well, so far this month I am doing pretty well for not keeping a budget per se. I have been tracking but not budgeting. My groceries are at $72.22 and that includes feeding 8 people on Saturday for tailgating. (It was my turn to supply the main dish.) Gas is only at $45.01 and dining out is only at $48.93, half of which was spent yesterday going out with a friend I hadn't seen in almost 2 years!! And I had leftovers from yesterday that I will soon be eating for lunch today. So, not too bad.

I have earned an extra $64.80 this month from surveys, so that will certainly help out with some Christmas shopping. I have not bought one thing yet, but that will all change this afternoon when I am off work and I go to Target to pick up a bathrobe for my niece. I noticed it was in the ad yesterday, so I will go get that today and will have started my shopping. Yeah! Thankfully, I don't have too much to shop for this year, but still, I can't believe I haven't even started! This is so not like me! I'm usually done by now and everything is wrapped and ready to go. I think when I get home tonight I will sit down with my recipes and figure out what I am going to bake this year. That is always fun!

So, for not budgeting this month, I think I am doing fairly well. Oh, and I paid an extra $400 on my mortgage! :)

Wishing you all a happy, healthy and safe Thanksgiving! Gobble gobble!

Friday, November 9, 2007

NSF checks

I have never written a bad check, but I have seen a lot of them come through at various places I have worked. The worst being one I received earlier this week from a client, this being the 2nd one we received from him, also, this being one replacing the original one. Which, of course the customer assured us was a good check. Ha! So, now we have taken 2 checks that have bounced, both for $7694.09 and my customer can not understand why we feel that we are entitled to come to his office and take back our cabling that we installed. Hmm! This will be interesting to see how this one plays out.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

The non-budget, budgeting....

So this month I have decided just to track what I spend and see where things fall at the end of the month. I didn't count the first couple of days while I was on vacation, because it is WAY too hard to track, but now that it is a full week into the month, I thought I would report where I am at.

I have spent $6.11 on groceries, and only $20 on gas. I picked up a prescription that will last the month for $5.50 and a few other health items for $5.86. Paid my 2 month electric bill that was $53.91, sent $200 to my money market for emergency savings, and spent $3.81 for photos to be developed from my vacation.

I'm still way overstocked on food and am going to try to plow through some of the food on hand before buying more. I don't have much going on this month that I should be spending money for. Even Thanksgiving will be fairly small, I will probably bake a couple of pies and make the salad. And I'm not one to fight the crowds at those crazy day after Thanksgiving sales, I would rather stay home and enjoy a quiet day getting my home decorated. And starting on my holiday baking.

I will still be keeping track of my spending, but I won't be trying to keep specific categories to a certain magic number. I'll just see how it all falls in to place and hopefully be able to send some more money away to savings before month end. ;)

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Lunches

Today I was sitting down eating my lunch, that I had brought from home because, well, I always bring my lunch from home, and I was watching my coworkers all head out to buy lunch and bringing back all kinds of deep fried, greasy garbage. I was quite pleased with my tuna fish sandwich, carrots and home made cookies. I would be curious as to how much these people spend each day on their lunches and if they really enjoy them. I occasionally use to go out and buy my lunch and I never got much satisfaction out of it. I think I get more satisfaction of looking at my bank balances and the fact that I am still the same size I was in high school even though it is 17 years later. I'm convinced that my home made lunches are healthier and I was able to wear my prom dress to a party this past January, nice for two reasons, I still fit in to the dress, and I didn't have to go out and spend money on a new one. :)

When people ask me how to save money I always tell them the first thing to cut out of the budget is eating out. Then if they start tracking their spending and really look at it, they will see how much eating out gouges the budget. Some will whine that they have to spend money at the grocery store then and the grocery budget goes up. Well, yes it will, but in the long run you should still be saving money overall cooking at home v. eating out. I do occasionally eat out, but I find that I sit and look at the menu and am disgusted at the prices, and usually the food isn't any better than what I can cook at home, and I'm certainly no gourmet cook.

So, do you have any thoughts on eating out v. cooking at home?

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Back from vacation...

We had a wonderful time, the weather was great, the kids had fun, and I even came home with more money in my wallet than I thought I would! :) I didn't buy much while we were gone, mainly food, and one photo of the 5 of us on Splash Mountain, there wasn't anything I really wanted to buy. I split the hotel, car rental and gas with my brother and his family, so my portion only came to $350 for the 6 days we were gone, not bad I think. First thing I did when I got back to work yesterday was to log on to the bank and see where my checking account was, then I wrote a check to my money market fund so that I can continue to bring the balance up on my savings.

I have started looking ahead to expenses for the next couple of months and am happy to report that I don't have much that will be needed for Christmas shopping, I have pared down my shopping list considerably this year, so that will mean less stress and less money spent. :) I am looking forward to decorating my new condo this year for the holidays, but even with that, I don't think much money will be spent, I have a lot of decorations and with the condo being on the small side, I think I have plenty of stuff.

So far, November is looking like it will be a good month for me to save more money and get a jump on my Christmas shopping. I am looking forward to the holidays this year and not going overboard with things. Are you ready for the season?

Monday, October 29, 2007

On vacation.....

I will be on vacation starting tomorrow and returning on Monday. I hope everyone has a super week! I'll fill you in on my trip when I get back, hopefully I won't spend too much! :)

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

New shopping record

Had to go grocery shopping again today on my way home from work. Why do I always put this off until I have to stop on the way home or I won't have anything for dinner? I must get better about this! Grocery store still in the midst of remodel and it's getting more and more confusing every time I go in there. Today was the start of a new ad, so I thought I would get in there and get the good stuff (loss leaders) before they run out and I have to get a rain check, that I never remember to use, so there I was stuck in the middle of rush hour in the grocery store. Ugh! BUT, I walked out of there tonight with $61 worth of groceries for the low, low price of $5.47!! That put a smile on my face for sure! Ok, I am a big Diet Coke addict and they had a sale 5/12 packs for $12, not bad, so I stocked up, oh and if you buy 5 of them, you also get 2 boxes of crackers free! Crackers are one of my favorite snacks, so I think, what the heck! I also bought some beer for tailgating this coming Saturday and some cornbread mix, also for tailgating, some laundry soap, milk and some tampons. So, I get up to the register and she rings it all up, I run my loyal shopper card, cuts the bill in half. Then, I pull out my $25 gift card I earned for doing surveys, run that, leaving me with a balance of $5.47! Oh, and I got 2 big baking potatoes for dinner tonight and my lunch for tomorrow. I'm quite pleased with this shopping trip and am sitting here right now enjoying a beer while my potato bakes away in the oven. I think I'm beginning to like going to the grocery store at rush hour, I seem to be doing quite well in my shopping. I certainly hope this is a new trend for me.....

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Quesion about pensions

I have recently gotten the information regarding my pension and what the pay out will be when I decide to take it. This is from my first job, back when I was 16 and working at the grocery store. I stayed long enough to become vested in my pension and this is what the payout looks like.

At age 55, I would receive 60% of the benefit, meaning the checks would be $278.84/month, but if I wait until age 63, the monthly check would be $449.74. So, what would you do? Thankfully I have 20 years before I can even try to decide what to do, but the thought has crossed my mind and I just don't know what to do, so I thought I would ask what others would do.

Also, can I plug my pension into my retirement numbers and add them in to my net worth, or are they completely separate? Any help is greatly appreciated. Thanks!

Monday, October 22, 2007

Budget Schmudget........

This past weekend I was looking over my budget and getting mad at myself for going over in some areas. And then realizing that there were several areas where I had not spent anything and haven't spent anything for months and months! I'm wondering if trying to budget so tightly is hurting, rather than helping me.

I am going to try something new next month and see how it goes. I've decided that I am going to spend freely without a budget and see where my money goes. BUT, before I do anything, I am going to pay myself and put money into savings. Then I will allow myself to spend without trying to make sure that I am under budget in every area. I think the constraints of this have been causing me such anguish, then when I go over, I feel like I have failed. For instance, since I know I am going on vacation at the end of the month, I set my budget up to have hardly any grocery money and of course, I have gone over my budgeted amount. Now I feel like I have failed that area of my budget and was really getting down on myself for it yesterday. Last night, it came to me. Why did I think I could get by on such a small amount of money for food this month? I'm only going to be gone the last 2 days of the month. Not very well thought out on my part!

I tend to go in spurts of spending money, so I am very curious to see how this new plan goes for me. I think for the month of November I will wipe out my budgeted amounts on my spreadsheet and although I will keep track of what I spend in the different categories, I won't put target amounts in. I'm just curious as to where my money is going. I'll try to keep very good track and report back to let you know how it's going. Any comments?

Monday, October 15, 2007

Goals, to finish out the year

I was looking at my spreadsheet of my finances that I have kept since I was in the throes of paying off debt. It's really great sometimes to look at it and see how far I have come, from being over $30,000 in debt, to now owning my own condo and with the exception of the mortgage, I am debt free. As you may have noticed, I have added my net worth graph to my blog, and it has gotten me thinking. What would I like to see that graph look like by the end of the year? And what about next year and the year after that? 10 years from now? Well, before I get too far, I would like to share some of my goals for the next few months to finish up the year with it.

*I would like to see that Net Worth total be at $70,000 or higher.

*I would like to have $7,000 in my savings account.

And some other goals I have had for 2007, I have already achieved. I bought my first home in April and I love it! I am even enjoying paying the mortgage as opposed to writing that rent check each month and saying goodbye to that money forever. I also have remained, consumer debt free and although I use my credit cards each month, I also pay them off in full each month. I really dislike paying interest. Have I told you that before? LOL!

As for 2008, my number one goal is to get the amount of my mortgage down to 80% so I can drop that damn PMI! It's only about $20,000 left until that point and I think if I am very diligent I just might be able to do it. At the latest I would like to see this gone by June of 2009. I will use my bonuses and I have decided to put my survey money and any "extras" to that. 2008 it will also be a year that I remain consumer debt free, I just can't imagine slipping back in to my old habits of shopping and paying for it over and over in the form of interest. I don't want to put too many goals down, but I would like to focus on these big ones.

Has anyone else started to think about goals for 2008? If you have, I would love to hear about them.........

Friday, October 12, 2007

Earning extra cash........

I love to earn extra cash, even if it's only a few dollars. I do a lot of surveys and this week alone have received $22 in checks for surveys I have participated. So far, I haven't really decided what to do with this extra money, I just deposit it into my checking account and spend it wherever. I was thinking that I really should track it and save it for something special or use it for small indulgences that I usually go without. Any suggestions? If you are interested in hearing more about surveys and what I have earned from them, send me an email. I hope everyone has a great weekend.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Not spending money....

so far this month I am doing extremely well at not spending money that I don't need to be spending. Like I said earlier, I think it is because I am anticipating our upcoming vacation and would like to be able to come home still debt free and with my savings in tact. I think I am going to be able to it too! Here it is the 11th of the month and I have only spent $25 on groceries so far and $28 on gas. I was suppose to be going out with my girlfriends tomorrow night to a dueling piano bar, but since 3 of the 7 had bailed, I decided that I didn't want to go either, it's one of those things that is so much more fun in a group. And of the remainder of girls going, I am not really enjoying as of late, she has a new boyfriend and is changing or I should say not acting like herself around him, and since she invited him to our girl's outing, I really didn't want to go. So, tomorrow I will have a nice quiet Friday evening and will enjoy a movie on tv that I have been wanting to see and some popcorn and wine. :) Actually, I think it will be a relatively quiet weekend and I don't think I will be spending much. That's good, it will leave me with more money to spend in the Magic Kingdom at the end of the month. So, here's to a frugal, yet fun and relaxing weekend.

Monday, October 8, 2007

Money and vacationing..........

Are we really only 1 week in to October? Maybe it's because I am leaving for vacation on the 30th, or that I have already written out all of my bills for the month, but it sure seems like it should be later than the 8th! I went shopping over the weekend with my cousin for her birthday. I was very good and only came home with 2 sweaters and a t-shirt. And now I am taking one of the sweaters back and the t-shirt, so I was very good! :) I have already taken the cash out of my checking account that I will be taking on vacation and since I pay my credit card off each month, I know I can use that for vacation as well. But looking at the numbers, I feel broke already! Maybe it will help me to keep a frugal mindset seeing that the money is already spent for the month, even though I know it won't actually come out of the account for a few weeks. And there is still plenty in there to enjoy on my vacation, but I know that what is there is suppose to last me until the end of the month. I really might actually have more money for vacation if I am in this frugal mindset. I tend to play a lot of mind games with myself in regards to money, does anyone else do that? I know I have money in my savings that I can pull for vacation, but I hate, I'm really hate, taking money out of savings, even though it's there for just such things as vacation. I know once I am actually there and we are enjoying our days in Disneyland, I won't think twice about spending the money and enjoying the trip. I guess I would rather keep things frugal before going and then not worry about the money I am spending while I am gone, I can always save money when I get home again! Plus when I get home, I will have just had another paycheck deposited into my account. It will be good for me this month though, because I want to make sure I have the money to spend while on vacation and seeing a smaller balance in the checkbook might just help me say no to extra, unnecessary expenses this month.

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Shopping for groceries....

I really dislike shopping for groceries, so I usually put it off as long as possible. I have been doing really well and not spending much, rarely going to the store. Last night I came home from a meeting, tired and hungry. There was very little to eat in the cupboards and although the freezer had a lot, nothing was thawed and ready. It was raining and cold out, so I knew there was no way I was heading to the store or to pick something up. So, I rummaged through and found a box of mac and cheese and I had milk and butter, so I knew I could make that at least. I felt a little silly eating Spongebob mac and cheese, but no one was around to see it so it was fine. But at work today, while eating the rest of the mac and cheese for lunch I knew I was going to have to go to the store. So, after work, off I go to QFC, with my list in hand. There is nothing worse than going to the grocery store at 5:00 except getting there at 5:00 and realizing the store is in the middle of a remodel.......whoa, when did this happen, I know it has been THAT long since I was last here. So, up and down the aisles I go, checking things off my list, hoping to keep the cost down pretty well. I picked up enough to feed myself for at least a week when adding these new items to those in my freezer. I get to the check out, the cashier is cranky because of the remodel, the bagger is irritated that I have my own cloth bags because they are harder for him to put the groceries in, whatever and the cashier and bagger are busy talking to each other and don't say much to me, although they are talking about my purchases and my cloth bags like I am not even there. All a reminder to me of why I dislike the grocery store so much. Funny, I didn't mind it when I worked there, maybe because they were paying me to be there, hmmm, never thought about that before. :) So, my total comes to $25.78, not bad for enough food to last for a week, probably longer if I pair them well with what I already have on hand. And I see on my receipt that I saved over $17! Now a 40% savings does make me feel better and my shopping trip has just gotten better. Of course I was reading my receipt as I was heading out the door of the store, so it's hard for me to pinpoint if it was the fleeing of the store or the actual savings that brightened my mood! Regardless, I am happy to have food in my cupboards and I won't have to go back to the store for awhile. Next time I will plan better and not go at rush hour! :)

Friday, September 28, 2007

A small success, but I'll take it!

After work today I had to go to Target to fill a prescription. I was transferring a prescription there to take advantage of the transfer special to get a $10 gift card. While I was waiting for the pharmacy to fill the prescription I wandered around the store. I ended up in the women's clothing, surprise surprise! I even ended up in the dressing room with a cute pair of pants to try on. They fit in the waist, which is great, usually the waist of most pants sticks out really far in the back and it drives me crazy. These fit, but they were about 8" too long! Ugh! I hate being only 5' tall and about 90 pounds! I can never find nice clothes in my size! Anyway, with the gift card the pants would have only cost me about $13, but then I would still have to get them shortened (I don't sew!). So, I thought about them for a few minutes, then put them back on the rack and walked back to the pharmacy where my prescription was ready and so was my gift card. I picked both up and walked out of the store. Yeah! I think I will hold on to the gift card and see about using it for some Christmas shopping later. I felt very proud of myself for my restraint when it came to the new pants. Of course it helped that I thought about having to blog about blowing it again on the new pants. Thanks for keeping me in check! Have a great weekend everyone, and hopefully I will steer clear of clothes shopping. Yikes! I will cherish this small victory tonight. :)

I must confess.......

I have not done all that well with my shopping exile! Darn it! OK, I have done just fine on my grocery shopping exile and I am way under budget for the month and probably will be for next month too. Dining out is also so far under budget I thought I had made a mistake with my numbers, but sure enough, it's all good! I have even taken my lunch to work every day this month except for 2 days. :) BUT, my clothes shopping exile failed before it even started. Ugh! My downfall, I love, love, love getting new clothes! This month I have bought a new wool coat, didn't need it, but dang it is cute. A pair of pants that will be perfect for Disneyland next month, a nice pair of slacks for work, a cute jacket and I'm pretty sure there has been more. The problem is, my mom and I spend every Thursday evening together and we usually end up at the mall. We really need to come up with something better to do, this is getting out of hand and I certainly don't need to be buying any clothes. I am going to have to start thinking of some other things, I'm sure she doesn't need any new clothes either. In fact, I know she doesn't, I clearly remember spending almost an entire day packing up her clothes when she moved last month. Ugh! I have got to get back into my good discipline mode. October will be better, I will make it better, I know I can do this!

I hope everyone has a fantastic weekend!

Monday, September 24, 2007

Must be the change in seasons.....

but I already feel like hibernating, which is not a bad thing! Hard to spend money if you are burying your head. My biggest entertainment this time of year are college football games that I have season tickets too. We do spend the entire day down at the stadium tailgating before the game and everyone brings some food to share, so it's a fun, fairly inexpensive day, except the tickets, but those are purchased all the way back in February, so it really doesn't feel like I am spending any money this time of year.

We are heading on vacation though at the end of October, we will be going to Disneyland for 4 days, then driving north to Stockton for my Gramma's 90th birthday. While we are in Disneyland the hotel is only going to be $720 for 4 nights, and I will be paying 1/5th of that. So, not bad for me. My aunt is getting us discount tickets for the parks and airfare should only be about $220 even with the multi-destination like we are doing. So, not too bad and it will be so much fun to go to Disneyland with my niece and nephew who are 5 and 9. Good fun!

Other than that, it is a pretty frugal time of year for me. It gets dark so early that I usually come home from work and am in for the night, so not much money spent going out. This will be my first year in my condo, so I am curious as to what it will take to heat the unit. I'm hoping not much! I tend to make a lot of soup and casseroles during the winter too, which I usually make out of whatever I have on hand, so they don't cost much.

Today I set up an auto transfer of $10/week to my ING savings account, I don't think I will even notice $10 being gone in which case I may bump it up to $20/week. We'll see how it goes. I was giving it a lot of thought this weekend about how I still feel really strange about my finances and seem to have lost a lot of passion for them. Then I realized, that while I was paying off debt, I was sending multiple payments in each month, therefore I was always seeing a decrease in my total debt balance. Got me thinking that if I want to see my savings increase, I had to do something to continually see it growing, so I set up this weekly transfer. I hope it works to make me get excited about saving and watching my money grow the way it did watching my debt decrease. Keeping my fingers crossed that this is the answer I am looking for.

Wishing everyone a happy end of summer evening. Over and out........

Friday, September 21, 2007

This weekend I have a baby shower to attend. I really dislike baby showers, wedding showers, bachelorette parties and the like. I am single 35 year old with no kids. I have been to countless showers, parties and weddings for people over the years, and everyone of them I have taken a gift. Now, I may never get married and I doubt I will have children, but nonetheless I always go to these parties. My question to you, is it ok to say no to some of these invitations and not send a gift? This month alone I have been to a wedding reception of a cousin I haven't seen in over 6 years, a friend's child's 1st birthday party and now the baby shower. This has been a slow month for me, I usually have at least 5 of these events per month. These things are killing my budget! My family is quite large, on my father's side, I have 52 first cousins, so you can imagine how many weddings and showers I have been to. What, if anything, do any of you do in these situations?

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

It's time for a shopping exile again........

This morning while I was getting ready for work, I started taking a good look around my condo. In the bathroom I realized that I have 4 different kinds of hairspray, 3 kinds of shower gel, and 5 different kinds of mousse and gel for my hair. Then I went into the kitchen to find something to eat for breakfast and something to take for lunch. The problem? I had way too much food to choose from and it made it really difficult for me to decide what to bring today. Then I go to my closet to get dressed, what do I find but SEVERAL options of clothes to wear! It made me stop and think how lucky I am to have this problem! How many people get upset by having an over abundance of things? Probably not many, but many people also probably do not realize how lucky they are to have so much! I decided that it's time for me to stay out of the stores again for a bit. I have plenty and need to go through some of this stuff before I can justify buying more. I really think I would be fine to not buy any clothes the rest of this year and I know I can go a couple of months without buying any styling products for my hair. As for food, I should really only be going for perishables right now, I have a freezer loaded with food and a pantry that is busting at the seams. I will try to use up what I've got before buying more or eating out and will use the money saved from this to continue funding my emergency savings. Does anyone else ever do this?

Friday, September 14, 2007

Sometimes you are deceived into believing you are getting a deal

I was looking over my Comcast bill the other day and thinking it was pretty high for what I was getting or I should say, what I was using. This all got started when I received an offer in the mail for Clearwire Internet services which looked like it was going to be fairly reasonably priced. I decided to call Comcast and see what could be done to lower my bill. I should tell you, I have one of their bundle packages, so it should be a deal, or so I thought. My bundle of cable, Internet and phone was $99 but with all the taxes and fees added on, it was costing me over $125/month! So, I never use my home phone, I only have it so I can have Internet. Turns out, I don't need the home phone, nor do I need the super-extended cable that came with my bundle. There really isn't anything good on those extra channels, so why am I paying for them? So, I have dropped my landline and changed my cable to basic and I have now saved myself over $60/month plus all those taxes they charge for that $60! Yeah! Why pay for something you aren't using? I feel pretty good about the savings I got today and will enjoy it much more when bill paying comes along next month. Hope everyone has a GREAT weekend!

Some happy news on retirement.....

After meeting with the financial advisor he gave me some homework assignments. Some were quick little things that took no longer than a couple of minutes to complete. Then there was one that I had been dreading doing. I knew that I have a pension coming from my long ago days of working in grocery. I don't know why I was dreading finding out the details, thinking that it would require a lot of legwork on my part. So, financial advisor calls me the other day, wants to know how I am doing on finding out that information, still nothing done on my end. After I get off the phone with him I decide that I should at least go online to see what I can find. After about 10 minutes of online research and 5 minute phone call, I have my answers. Turns out that if I wait until age 63, I will get a pay out of $449.74 each month. Not a huge amount, but it's nice to know that I will be able to count on it. And if I ever do decide to go back to work in grocery, I will just add to that pension. I really enjoyed my job there, it was low stress and for the most part, really fun talking to people every day and I usually had nice co-workers too. Always nice to know that I can fall back on it if I need/want to. Financial Advisor was quite impressed at how quickly I was able to get this info back to him as well.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Emergency savings....

In my post yesterday I was saying how now that I don't have debt to pay off and I have purchased my condo, I am somewhat bored with my finances. I really need to figure out what will get me excited about them again. SMB commented that I didn't mention whether or not I have an emergency savings account. I do, currently it has $5793.02. I know it should have more, but what is a good number?? I know this can be completely different for everyone, so I look forward to hearing what you have to say. When I met with the financial planner last week, he thought that I should work on getting the E-fund up to $10,000. As far as other savings goes, for retirement, I am taking full advantage of the company match in my Simple IRA, and I am working on fully funding the Roth IRA. Then what should be next?? Do you think it is wise to try to pay off a mortgage early? Or should I continue adding to my savings? Or should I start a savings for a car? The one I have now is in great shape, but I know it won't last forever. A vacation fund? Oh, what to do, what to do...... I look forward to any and all advice. Thanks!

Monday, September 10, 2007

Boring, boring, boring

So, I haven't had anything to post about for a little while, I think because my life has become pretty mundane. I have been reading lots and lots of blogs and implementing things I am learning from them into my life, but my life seems to just be cruising along on auto pilot lately. My networth is increasing nicely every month and I am noticing that I am getting better about not spending money frivolously, but I just don't feel satisfied about my financial state. I think because in the past I always had a goal of paying off this debt, or that debt, then it was saving money for a down payment on a house. Now that I have done all of those things, I am at a loss for what my next "goal" is. Any ideas? I enjoy finding new ways to be frugal all the time and am really learning a lot from other's blogs, but I need something to kickstart my passion again at growing my net worth. Sorry I am rambling, I'm not doing a good job of getting my point across. I just need something to get me excited again about my finances and watching them grow. Any thoughts, comments or criticisms are welcome! THANKS!

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

I thought I was way behind......

on my financial planning for retirement until yesterday! I finally went to a financial planner to see where I am at and where I could be and what I need to be doing to get where I want, when I want. Turns out, I was actually doing pretty well with the planning I had done on my own to this point. Now, that doesn't mean that there wasn't room for improvement, but I was pleasantly surprised to hear that at 35, I was doing pretty well already, so all I really needed was some fine tuning. I feel really good about some of the decisions I had made on my own and about the things we changed yesterday to get me to my goals sooner. I also think just going and sitting down with the planner was the kick in the butt I needed to get me back on gear and reaffirming my focus and goals so that I will continue to be diligent in this pursuit of financial freedom. I would like to be fully retired or at least have the option to be by the time I am 60, that gives me 25 years to continue working hard to attain this goal. I think I will go back and see the FP in about 6 months to see where I am then, what might need to be done and just to keep me on point, I think it will be good for me. I didn't make a lot of changes, but some I knew he would suggest and I felt pleased that I had anticipated his suggestions and it was nice to hear that he thought I had been doing a good job on my own so far. I'll keep you posted in the next few months to see where things go with the few changes I have made. Hopefully I'll start to see more of an increase in my net worth. ;)

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

As a first time homeowner, I am learning

and learning and learning. Just when I feel like I understand things like escrow, taxes, mortgage insurance and the like, I find out I still have more to learn. I knew that each month when I made my mortgage payment that it was broken down into several different categories and I thought I understood them, turns out I did, which was a nice surprise, but I still doubt my knowledge from time to time and this time that turned out to be a good thing! I received my property tax bill the other day from the county and I was a bit confused. It was my understanding that I was paying money into my escrow account each month to build up my payment for these property taxes. So, I call the bank today because not only was I confused that I was receiving this bill, but also by the vast difference in the bill v. what my escrow account had estimated my taxes to be. A nice surprise when looking at the bill I received and hoping it was correct because it was less than half of what my escrow account had estimated. I then did the thinking of, "ok, if it's half it must be because it's for the second half of the year." I call the bank to ask what I am feeling must be a really dumb question, but as a first time homeowner, I needed to get to the bottom of this. Turns out the statement was correct, yeah, and the escrow company had only estimated my taxes based on the total taxes of my building divided by the number of units. Well, I only have a 1 bedroom condo, so my taxes of course would be smaller than someone who has a 2 or 3 bedroom unit. Yeah! Ok, so my 5 minute phone call corrected my escrow account, the future escrow payments to said account and resulted in an $1100 refund to me!

I must say between this, the refund I received right after moving in due to the square footage discrepancy, the fact that I am still not on the hook for my utilities or my condo dues, I am LOVING home ownership! So far, so good! :) I love a windfall, no matter how it comes!

Friday, August 17, 2007

Mid-month review of budget

I had been afraid that August was going to be expensive since July came in so far under budget, but so far, so good! I have my mortgage payment written and am just waiting for the statement to arrive. I paid an extra $283.52 this month.

My grocery budget seems almost non existent this month, I think due to the fact that I helped my parents move and since they were moving everything in to storage and staying in a hotel for the next several months, I was the lucky recipient of most of their frozen and refrigerated foods! Yah! And, I got a new Rx this month from my Dr. and I had a coupon for a $30 gift card at the grocery store for getting a new or transferred Rx done there. So, I will hold on to that and may even be able to eat the food from my parents long enough that I will be able to put the gift card towards September's grocery budget!

Taking the extra days off of work didn't add significantly to my spending in any categories really. I did go and get a manicure/pedicure one day, but that was at the beauty school so very inexpensive. The student that did my work also told me to come back next time just to get a polish change, they still file your nails, trim loose cuticles and give the oil treatment, then fresh polish all for only $3, instead of the usual $8 for a manicure. Sounds good to me, I will give it a try. Other than that, I didn't go out much, so my gas bill was down and I ate at home a lot, so nothing significant added to the dining out portion of my budget. :)

Still not paying the utilities or the condo dues at my new place, so I have been stashing some of that money in savings and also adding it to my Roth IRA. With the raise I got in July, I increased my contributions to my Simple IRA by 1%, which still left me with a small raise in my take home pay as well. Yah!

So far, August is looking like a pretty good one for me, with increases in my net worth on the way. And I feel like I am continually finding ways to reign in my spending. A couple of things I would like for my condo I am going to try to hold off on, and add them to my Christmas wish list!

Hope August is going well for everyone else too! I do think I might have to go buy some fall clothes for work, but I think I will be able to get by with just adding a few basics. That will mean a trip to the outlet mall where I can get pants pretty reasonably priced.

Happy Friday! Make it a great weekend!

Monday, August 13, 2007

The book........

A couple of people have asked me what book my mom bought for me. Here you go,it was:

Prince Charming Isn't Coming! Thanks MOM! Glad to know that she has so much faith in my finding someone! Ha! Actually it was a GREAT book and I would highly recommend it! The author was the daughter to one of the founders of H&R Block, she inherited a fortune and her first husband managed to practically bankrupt them. There was so much great information in this book for anyone, not just single women. It also stresses the importance for all women to take care of themselves, regardless of how financially secure they are with their spouses. I would highly recommend it. I would tell you who the author was, but I have loaned it out to a friend. I think it was Barbara Stanny? If someone knows, please put it in the comments. Thanks!

One more day of vacation, then back to the grindstone!

Sunday, August 12, 2007

A wonderful vacation...

I am currently on vacation and I am loving it! I decided that I wasn't going to go another year, not taking all of my vacation time and losing it when the next year rolled around. So, I took last Thursday and Friday off, and I will have Monday and Tuesday off as well. I really haven't been doing much, but it has been WONDERFUL!! Just the idea of having 6 days off in a row without any commitments has been so relaxing.

Thursday I went walking with a friend of mine early in the morning, earlier in fact than I get up to go to work. It's funny how it is much easier to get up for something like an early morning walk than it is to get up for work! :) I spent the rest of the day spoiling myself. I got a manicure and pedicure, both at the beauty college, at very reasonable prices and it's nice to let the students get more hours in for their experience. I went to a matinee, also less expensive than if I had waited one hour later!

Friday was just as relaxing, starting again with the early morning walk, such a wonderful way to start the day! Then I went to a local festival and wandered around checking everything out. I didn't buy anything, but it was so fun to look. Friday afternoon was the big date with the firefighter from the parade! He called! Yeah! So fun! Then Friday evening I went school clothes shopping with my niece and nephew and was so proud of my nephew for figuring out that he could get several shirts he liked for the same price as one REALLY cool shirt! He's the bargain shopper for sure! I couldn't have been more proud!

Saturday I went to a hot rod show and BBQ for charity, very fun! Those cars amaze me! Back to the festival on Saturday night and hanging out with many friends I haven't seen in years! One of the fun things about still living in the same small town I grew up in is that a lot of people come back every summer for this weekend and it's so fun to reconnect with old friends.

Sunday, ahhh, what a lovely day relaxing and reading on my porch and taking cat naps throughout the day! And vacation is not over yet! I still have 2 more days off! Not sure what those days will involve, hopefully more relaxing and taking the days as they come! ;) I hope everyone else has had as great a weekend as I have.

I am looking forward to going back to work on Wednesday, of course knowing it will only be 3 days of work before heading in to the weekend again does help!! :)

Does anyone else ever take their vacation time like this? I know, I for one will do it again next year for sure! All this great fun and I still have 3 weeks of paid time off to take before next July.

Thursday, August 2, 2007

Way too much stuff....

My parents are in the process of moving and I have been helping them pack all their stuff. Oh my, what a chore this has been! I have probably put in close to 50 hours helping them pack up and we still have lots and lots of work ahead of us. They have been in this house for only 10 years, but I am amazed at how much they have accumulated in those 10 years! I helped them pack up when they moved last time and it wasn't nearly this bad, and they had been in that house for 24 years! As I was packing up all of this stuff it got me to thinking about how much money they spend on material things! Yikes! It made me really glad I have decided to live a paired down, simpler lifestyle. I was packing up the pantry and had to throw so much food out because it had expired, some of it over 2 years ago! It mad realize that by having so much stuff, they couldn't even tell what they had, therefore a lot of things were wasted! It seems like such a shame to waste all of this stuff, but what can you do? You may recall that I recently moved, I packed all of my things without any help, then on moving day, it only took 2 1/2 hours to move all my stuff from point A to point B. And I had it all unpacked and put away within the next two days! My mom did say that all of this work of packing made her not want to go shopping for anything ever again. I'm guessing that this feeling will fade rather quickly and she will be out shopping again soon! Just my thoughts on having too many things! What are your thoughts?

Monday, July 30, 2007

What a fun parade....

Totally off the subject of finances, but I have to share! The parade was a lot of fun and the day was beautiful! Great floats and lots of bands, but the best part by far was the eye candy! The firefighters that do the calendar each year to benefit the burn foundation were in the parade! Holy hubba, they were some really good looking men! Well, Mr. November came over to me and picked me up, we had our picture taken and just a bunch of general flirting going on. Then to my surprise, he asked for my phone number! I just stood there dumbfounded and never gave it to him. In my mind, I kept thinking, he doesn't really want my phone number. So, he headed back out in to the parade and I missed my chance! WHAT was I thinking??! This guy was HOT! Well, if it's meant to be, somehow these things work there way out. Next time I will be more prepared and have a pen in hand! ;) I hope everyone had as much fun as I did this past weekend.

Friday, July 27, 2007

An very inexpensive month

July has been (I thought) a relatively expensive month for me, but now that there are only a couple days left in the month I am happy to report I will come in about $300 under budget! Yeah! I'm pouring over all of my information trying to figure out how this can be. Hmmm, I'm hoping this doesn't mean I screwed up somewhere and August is going to be expensive!

I paid an extra $257.21 on my mortgage this month, still plugging away at getting down to the 80% so I can drop the PMI. It's only about $57/month which I know isn't bad, but if I can drop it sooner, rather than later I will be able to have that much more go to principal AND there will be less of a principal balance that I can be charged interest on. I really hate paying interest!! Not sure if I really know anyone who likes it, but I have an extreme disdain for it!

My grocery and gas budgets were hardly tapped at all this month, I think due to the fact that I had gum surgery and wasn't eating much and didn't feel up to going out too much, this also has left a huge chunk of my entertainment budget in place as well. Oh, and I didn't buy any new clothes either, so that helps. I guess that would also explain the minimal eating out this month as well.

I did buy new tires for my car, but I had that money saved already for that purpose. Oh, I love having my new tires! My car rides so much smoother and is SO much quieter! :) Simple pleasures!

I have really enjoyed this mellow, quiet month and haven't felt like I missed out on anything spectacular by staying home a lot. I read several really great books, all borrowed from the library of course. I watched several movies at home on my free movie channels and On Demand that were free.

My mom bought me a book and told me not to be offended before she gave it to me, but she thought I might really enjoy it. And she was right. I'm a 35 year old, single gal and the book she bought me........can anyone guess? I'll post the answer next week, but I want to see if you have any ideas. The book taught me a lot about my finances and my outlook on what I had been doing, what I still need to do and what I have done right and wrong up to this point. If you have a guess let me know!

I am heading to a parade tomorrow evening which involves the entire day of staking out a good spot and waiting. My friend and I will take snacks with us and some books to keep us busy. Then the rest of our friends and family that are coming will be there around dinner time and will bring us a nice dinner in payment for keeping their seats for the big parade. Tonight I will be baking treats for us all to share tomorrow as well.

I hope everyone has a great weekend!

Monday, July 23, 2007

An interesting comment....

I received an anonymous comment on my post, How I paid off my debt in 26 months. The commenter says, "Suicide looks better than a lifestyle like this"

Why is it that all negative comments are always written from anonymous?? I have very little respect for someone who can't tell me who they are when they put me down. Seems very cowardly to me.

I will admit that during this time of paying off my debt I was very lonely, I felt isolated from my friends and family because none of them were going through this like I was. It really wasn't a lot of fun living such a frugal lifestyle, but what kept me at it was knowing that this wasn't how I was going to have to live my life forever. The means justified the end. And now I have a beautiful condo, no debt and I have peace of mind that I didn't have during the frugal years. I have money in savings, I have money in retirement, I even have money in my wallet that for a lot of that time I didn't dare carry any cash because I knew I would spend it foolishly! And now and again I splurge a little on things for myself, I deserve it after all that I have achieved. I feel good about how far I have come in a relatively short amount of time.

So, now I say to you, anonymous, how much debt do you have? How much money do you have saved for your future? Tell me who you are and share your story.....

Monday, July 9, 2007

Just a few little notes on things that have been going on. As it's summer and the weather has been great, I have spent little to no time on my computer, therefore no posts. Sorry, I always want to play hooky when the weather is nice. Thought I would drop a quick note before I head out the door from work.

I have been out running a lot, early in the morning (4:30am) before it gets too hot. Last year at this time I was training for a marathon which was great fun, but I decided not to do it this year. I am thinking that next year I would like to do the Maui marathon. A great excuse to take a trip to Hawaii! :) So, I have started saving all of my found change in a big jar. So far so good, the bottom is covered and it's about an inch tall. I always round up my checks at the grocery store so I will get back a little change. And for some reason I have a knack for finding money. So all that will go in there too! This past weekend in fact I found a $10 bill while out walking! Yeah for me, too bad for person who lost it. I will add this to my marathon fund!

I am gearing up to have gum surgery this Friday! Ugh! Unfortunately I have been through this before, so I know exactly what to expect! I have stocked up on jello, pudding and ice cream for my recovery. Certainly won't be eating much, but oh well, when it's hot I rarely feel like eating anyway. I better head to the library and get some good books though. And I have yet to find out what this is going to cost me. My insurance should cover 80-90% which is great, but I don't know the total yet! I should really try to find that out before Friday!

And, I finally need to get new tires on my 2000 Honda Civic, first time though, so that's not bad! And I know that for this little car it won't be too extremely expensive. Thankfully! And I do need to get a new battery, also a first for this car. I keep reminding myself that it is much cheaper to maintain a car than to get a new one! ;) But why is it that these expenses always hit at once? Can someone please explain this to me? At least I have the money to pay for all of these things now and won't have to dig out the CC.

Well folks, I am heading out into the sunshine again. Don't forget to put your sunscreen on! Have a great day!

Thursday, June 21, 2007

I came across this great article on Bankrate.com and thought you might all enjoy it too. http://www.bankrate.com/nltrack/news/pf/20070418_Compact_save_consumerism_a3.asp

I am finding that in my quest to change and live more frugally I am also becoming more "green" and I don't mean the jealousy kind of green. This article focuses on a group of individuals in the San Francisco area who call themselves The Compact, found that by living more green, they were saving money! I found it really interesting, hope you do too.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

My nephew interviewed me....

for a 3rd grade project. They are currently learning about jobs, money and responsibility. His assignment was to interview an adult in his family about their first job. I was thrilled that he asked me and had a great time sharing. It also brought back memories of that first job of bagging groceries at the local Albertsons and getting my paycheck for $50.40 before taxes for my 15 hours of work. Yes, I was making $3.36/hour and when I worked on Sundays and made time and a half, I really thought I had made it in the world! One of the questions he asked me was, "What did you learn from your first job that you have taken with you in your life?" I told him that it is important to find a job you love, and although it took many jobs and a lot of life experience to figure this next one out, you should always spend less than you make! He looked at me like I had instantly grown 2 heads! His mom looked at me and thanked me for that bit of advice and told him that one was very important and don't ever forget it. You will be much happier in life if you spend less than you make!

I hope these are lessons he is learning and will hold on to. I would hate to see him make some of the money mistakes I have made. Then again, sometimes it is by doing things the hard way that we learn the greatest lesson.

Money Can Buy Happiness

I am reading the new book by MSN Money columnist MP Dunleavey right now and so far it is a great read. Has anyone else read it? I'm curious to hear what others think. My favorite quote so far is:

"Never keep up with the Joneses, drag them down to your level, it's cheaper" ~Quentin Crisp

Truer words were never spoken. I will update more as I finish the book. Just thought I would let others know about it.

Make it a great day!

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Maxed out

Has anyone seen this movie? I watched it last night, it was really informative, I thought about the state of debt in our nation and where it has been and where it is going. Some of the people on there were really in dire straits and others just thought that they were owed the right to borrow so much money. "It's the American way!" Not for this American, thank you! It's really disheartening to hear that the credit card companies seek out those with low incomes/no incomes because these are the people they make their money off of, not people like me that pay my balance in full every month! If you get the chance to see this documentary, I highly suggest it!

Friday, June 8, 2007

Feeling groovy.......

I am feeling really good about my finances right now. Of course I wish I had more in retirement and a larger emergency fund, but all in all, I have achieved several rather large goals over the last couple of years. I finished paying off all of my credit card debt, student loans, car loan AND I purchased my first home! Yeah! While in the process of paying off my debt and loans I really didn't do anything "for me" during that time. I rarely bought ANYTHING during this time. I had no new clothes unless my underwear or socks got holes in them. I didn't do anything to spoil myself either. So, yesterday I took the day off from work and went shopping with my 2 best friends. We had a ball, we went to the outlet mall and I got some very fun, cute, new duds! I got 2 skirts, 2 pair of shorts, 2 pair of pants, a dress, a sweater set, 6 bras, and a couple of shirts, all for $276!! The clothes are nice ones too, coming from Ann Taylor, Banana Republic, J. Crew, Adidas, etc and the bras are all Maidenform. Then I went to the mall to meet up with my mom and I knew I was going to need some warm fleece pants this weekend because I am doing a long charity walk where I will be walking overnight, so I got those and a fleece coat, both for a total of $91! Now, I am not really much of a shopper, but it was really, really fun to get all kinds of new stuff. And of course I am wearing a skirt and the sweater set today! :)

Also while we were out shopping I took my car in for a maintenance service. The total bill for that was $77.56, plus the news that I will be needing a new battery and new tires. Both of which I was expecting to be coming soon. But, I have no problem spending the money on these things, my car is 7 years old and this will be the first time I have replaced the tires and the battery. The car only has 68,000 miles on it and it's a Honda, so I just may end up driving it for another 7 years, at which point my nephew will be getting his license and I think it would make a great first car for him. Maintaining a car is so much cheaper than buying a new one, and I still really like my car, so why would I want to go out and get a new one?!

Now I am looking forward to the weekend and the charity walk, hopefully it won't get too cold, but if it does, I'll be fine with my new fleece pants! :) Make it a great one all!

Wednesday, June 6, 2007

A favorite subject of mine.....

Surveys! I know, I know, you are thinking, holy moly she does a lot of posts about earning extra income from online surveys. Well, I do and there's a reason! I really think people are underestimating the earning potential in online surveys! I received an e-mail last week from one of the usual sites I work with and I filled out their preliminary survey to see if I would qualify for the study. Well lo and behold, I am just the type they were looking for and after doing the study on 2 different types of jar pasta sauces and answering several questions about them, I received a nice check in the mail today for $100 for my time and efforts! Yes, that's right, $100!!! All for purchasing, making some dinners and tasting 2 types of pasta sauce. I have to eat dinner and lunch anyway, so what the heck! Such a deal for me, I was able to make several meals, not have to wonder about what I was going to cook, and I earned $100. Ok, after purchasing the sauces and the noodles to go with it, I figure I netted $$93.97! Not bad, I would say. So, again I will remind you, check out the referral links to the right and give it a try! Unless of course you have all the money you could ever use! As always, make it a great day and be thankful for all you have in your life! Be blessed!

Tuesday, June 5, 2007

My next goal...

I find that I tend to better budget and control my finances when I have a goal. So, now that I have purchased my condo and have it all furnished and don't need to buy anything else for it, I am on to my next goal. I would like to put extra money towards my mortgage so that I can drop the PMI as soon as possible. As of right now, not taking in to account the appreciation, I will need to pay $22573.62 in order to have the 20% equity to drop the PMI. I have always been one to overpay my minimums in order to clear debt as quickly as possible and I found that once I had my debt paid off, I was kind of at a loss for what to do with my money. I know that sounds funny, but I am a very goal driven person, so I think this will be good for me and help me not foolishly spend my money. I'll keep you posted on how it is going.

Monday, June 4, 2007

Sorry to have been gone for a bit, I had to head out of town for work unexpectedly, but now I'm back! It's funny how the brain works, the entire time I was doing my food stamp challenge I felt like I was starving! I could only think about things to eat that I in no way could have afforded with my $21 for the week. And I was so excited for the week to be over and to go buy all the things that sounded so good. I get to the grocery store and wouldn't you know it, I couldn't think of anything that I had been wishing for during the previous week. I think it's a mind over matter type of thing. Since I didn't mind spending more on groceries when the project was over, I didn't mind what I was eating! I went to the grocery store ready to really splurge and as I looked at things that sounded good, I would look at the price and say to myself, "Wow, that seems like an awful lot to spend on ...." Maybe the experiment was good in that it has made me think about what I am buying and spending on food and I will perhaps be somewhat more frugal in that manner. I'll see how it goes over the next few weeks.

As for this past weekend, I didn't spend much money. I could have, but I'm happy to say that I didn't. I watched my niece and nephew on Friday night and could have taken them to a movie like I would usually do, but instead we played outside at the park and went for a walk. We colored and watched a movie at home and had a blast. Saturday I went to the local farmer's market and could have bought some gorgeous flowers, but I decided to just enjoy them there and leave them for someone else to buy. :) Sunday was a my mom's 60th birthday, so we had a family BBQ and had a great time just spending time together as a family. I think I spend about $35 for the whole weekend, including a trip to the grocery store.

I went to the library and stocked up on several books and have been sitting on my balcony reading in the evenings and thoroughly enjoying it. I am having a great time finding more and more things to do that cost little to nothing. It's nice to indulge in these frugal activities.

Happy Monday!

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Frugal weekend, but had lots of fun...

This past weekend I stayed home and really enjoyed my new condo. I sat out on my deck when it was nice and had dinner and wine while watching the sunset. On Friday night a friend and I went to the Folk Life Festival and had a great time just wandering around and taking in all the culture. Didn't buy a darn thing! Saturday, I was up with the chickens and was out walking. Came home and read a book for awhile and finally figured out how to download music onto my iPod that I had received for Christmas! Yeah! Another friend came over for dinner on Saturday night and we watched a few tapes of our favorite shows to catch up. Sunday, again up with the chickens and out the door for a good long walk, this time in the rain! Yikes! Oh well, came home and had a nice hot shower and spent the day inside reading and baking cookies. Did some crossword puzzles and went to bed early. Monday morning, up and out the door for a walk in the beautiful sunny morning! I went to Ikea later and bought a runner for my hallway for only $19.99 no tax this weekend! I was pleased with this purchase as I had been looking at a runner for $300! I definitely feel like I got a bargain! Monday evening went to see Pirates of the Caribbean 3, good, but pretty gruesome! The little theater downtown shows new movies for only $7.00, which is much better than $9.75 at the multiplex! So, all in all a fun rather frugal weekend. I finished my book early and didn't have a thing in the house to read for the rest of Sunday and all of Monday. I must hit the library on my way home tonight or while I am out walking. I hope everyone had a wonderful weekend as well!

Friday, May 25, 2007

Tomorrow I will eat..........a lot!

Tonight is the end of my food stamp challenge and I can't wait to have a really nice meal tomorrow. I like to eat, frequently and quite a bit at a time, so this has been really hard for me. I have found that I am not as alert or thinking as clearly during this week, not to mention that I have been so tired, I have gone to bed early every night. This challenge has certainly made me realize that it is just as important to fuel our minds as it is our bodies with the food we eat.

I hope everyone makes it a great weekend, be thankful for what you have and take some time to reflect on your life. Best wishes all!

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

I am on day 4 of my food stamp challenge

and it is getting really boring. I am not very creative I guess when it comes to figuring out what to eat for only $21 for the entire week. Needless to say I was happy to see Single Ma's post that typically people on assistance were not eating on such a small budget, I can't imagine being able to make it. This is the 3rd meal of spaghetti that I have had, along with 2 grilled cheese sandwiches and lots of Cheerios and toast. This little project has made me realize that I can probably cut down on my food budget in some places, but that I would rather find a different area in which to save. I like to eat way too much to be able to make it on such slim pickins. I will continue on until Friday, but not happily! Oh well, if nothing else, maybe I will drop a couple pounds.

Saturday, May 19, 2007

How I saved $50 today....

This morning I had an appt. to get my hair foiled, a partial foil and a haircut. Now I use to go to a salon that would charge $100 for the partial foil and the service included a haircut. So, even if I didn't need a haircut, I would still pay $100 either way. A long time ago I would go to a beauty school to get my hair done and I remembered it being fairly inexpensive. So, I called and made an appt, it would be $49.95 for a partial foil and $9.95 for a haircut. So, I booked my appt and was happily counting the $40 I would save over the other salon. The gal on the phone mentioned that coloring was the special that month at the school and if I went to the website, I could print out a coupon to save $10! So, now I am getting my haircut and foiled for half the price of the salon I had been going to, and I get the good feeling of helping a student get more experience. Plus I don't have to try to make conversation with the annoying guy that had been doing my hair. Now I could either get my hair done twice as often and still spend the same amount yearly, or I can keep up my regular schedule and spend half as much. I think I will enjoy putting that extra money into my savings every month. :) Hope everyone is having a happy, healthy and fun weekend.

Friday, May 18, 2007

Could you survive on foods stamps?

I receive a monthly newsletter from Food Lifeline with information in regards to feeding the homeless and less fortunate. I also volunteer my time there. This months newsletter had an interesting challenge that I have decided to take on. As a single person, if I were to receive benefits, the amount I would receive would most likely be around $21 for food for the entire week. That averages out to only $1/meal, no snacks. The challenge is to see if I can make it the entire week shopping only with $21 and feed myself and manage to keep myself from going hungry while doing this. I will keep a food journal and a journal of my shopping trips. Should be interesting. My 7 days will start at breakfast tomorrow morning. I'll keep you all posted on how it goes. I have a feeling I won't be liking a whole lot of what I will be eating. I tend to open my refrigerator and even though it is fairly full, I can't seem to find anything to eat. Does anyone else do this?

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Getting back into the swing of things....

Now that I have moved in to my new condo and am starting to feel settled, it's time I got back to watching the budget and being more conservative in my spending ways. I am back to cooking for myself every night and bringing my lunch to work again everyday. I had pretty much run through all of my groceries before moving so there wasn't much there when I decided to start cooking again. I made a big run to the store and am pretty stocked up and should be for quite some time. Now it's time for me to plug the leak in my spending that seems to have occurred during moving. Now I am the type of person that once motivated tends to go overboard when jumping in to something. I will work on trying to tighten up my spending, but not making it so tight I squeak! Does anyone have any suggestions on finding the happy medium? Now that I have debt again, I look at my mortgage balance and I think, "I just want that debt gone!" I know that it's not a realistic thought, so please help me out here! Thanks! As always, make it a great day!

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

out of control spending....

Seems to be the song I am singing lately! I hate it when I go through spurts like this. I know a lot of it is due to moving into my new condo and wanting to have it all set up the way I want right away. And thankfully this month I haven't had to pay rent or my first mortgage payment so there is room in the budget to play a little. Maybe that's why I feel like I am spending so much money. I think I will have to really take a look at it and see, I bet I am really spending less money since I didn't have a housing payment to make. I'm just not use to shopping so much! Seems like every time I come home I have a bag or 2 to carry in with me. My next big purchase coming up is going to be area rugs to cover my hardwoods and I have found a wonderful place to shop for them with reasonable prices. The online site is www.rugsgalore.com and they have free shipping! I am lucky that they have a store near me that I can go and see the rugs up close, I've been and they are beautiful. They even let you take them home for 3 days to see if you like them before you have to pay for them. Hopefully this next weekend I will find what I am looking for and will really feel like things are settled in at my place. I have also decided that I probably won't take a "real" vacation this year, instead I will use my vacation time in long weekends and enjoy my new condo and the amenities there. Along with some pampering like massages, manicures and pedicures and the like. Should be relaxing and easier on the budget. Plus there is so much in my area that I haven't ever seen, I think I will play tourist in my own town. I hope everyone is having a wonderful spring and is sticking to their budget better than I am. :) Make it a great day!

Wednesday, May 9, 2007

Another windfall....

This condo thing is very interesting! I received a phone call on Friday afternoon from the condo office saying they needed to talk to me about my unit. I called the gal back and she said there was a discrepancy in the measurement of my condo unit. Seems that they first surveyor incorrectly measured and was off by 61 square feet. Unfortunately or perhaps fortunately for me, the condo is actually smaller than what I was originally told. So, they were offering 1 of 2 options to solve this problem. They would either purchase my unit back from me at my purchase price or refund me 3% of my purchase price. I thought about it a lot over the weekend and decided that I didn't want to move, wouldn't know where I would move and the fact remains, it is still the same condo I fell in love with. So, Monday morning I called the gal back and said I would like to take the 3% refund, but that I would also like to purchase a storage unit. So, I picked up the appropriate documents, had them notarized and received my check for 3%. I then wrote the developer a check for my storage unit and have come out way ahead still. Also nice is that now I have a storage unit that will help add to the resale of my condo later. :) Yeah! So, I have started to build up my savings again with the extra money, purchased a storage unit and am even happier with my condo now than I originally was. What would you have done?? I'm curious!

Friday, May 4, 2007

A nice little windfall....

So, I have just moved into my new condo and I will be looking at my budget and obviously having to do some tweaking of it since I now have higher housing expenses including things like condo dues. Now I have unpacked all my boxes and am really getting settled in and I love my new digs! I was the first person to move into the complex and everything is so shiny and new and it's great. So, I checked into my condo dues and who do I pay them to, when are they due, etc. Turns out, I don't have to start paying them until the entire complex is done, which won't be until probably Feb. 2008!! Yeah! That's a savings of $200/month which I will put into my savings account as if I were making the payment already and it will add a nice cushion to my savings. I also found out I don't have to pay my electric until then either because it is easier for the developer to pay it all together and it's a nice bonus for those of us living through the inconvenience of construction. Gotta love it when you can save money like that! Certainly will make it easier for me to buy the couple things I need in order to really make my new place feel like home. Make it a great weekend everyone! :)

Friday, April 27, 2007

Earning extra money

I have posted 3 links off to the right side that will all take you to various websites where you can take surveys and earn extra cash. Just this week I have received checks for all 3 of these, the smallest being $11.00 and the largest being $45.00. So, if you are interested and need a little extra cash, give them a try. I have been very happy with my earnings so far. Happy Friday all!

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

What a month! Sheesh!

Ok, so I have been so busy trying to get packed and ready to move and working full time and celebrating birthdays with family members that I have completely fallen off the wagon, the budget wagon! Yikes! I think I am still doing fairly well in a lot of areas, but I have eaten out WAY too much for my liking. I am signing tomorrow on my new condo and then I will be able to start moving on Friday afternoon and that will probably take up the bulk of my weekend, but I have a baby shower to go to on Saturday afternoon as well. I am just about completely packed which means that I am unable to cook, therefore eating out! I can't wait to get settled in and cook a real meal again. I am having nightmares about fast food restaurants and when the gal gave me my change today all in quarters, I about lost it! I think I will have to figure something else out for the remainder of the week, because it is only Tuesday and if I have to eat another drive thru meal, I will oh I don't know what I will do, but it won't be good! :)

As for moving, I was able to rent a truck of only $19.95 for the day plus mileage. Luckily for me it's only about 2 miles between where I currently live and where I am moving to. So, I was able to get a smaller truck which saved me a bunch of money and we should be able to do most of it in 3 trips! Yeah! I am taking Monday off so that I can have some extra time to get settled with out having to rush back into work. Then I will have company the following weekend! Oh well, sometimes my life is so quiet and boring, this is a nice change of pace, but I do look forward to it settling down again soon!

Please excuse my lack of posts during this really busy time, I promise to post more once I get settled and get use to my new bills and how they will all fit in to my budget! For now, I will still be checking in and reading other's blogs, but I can't promise I will have anything profound to post about.

And as much as I don't want to do it, I will post an April month in review. Yikes, it's going to be ugly! For now, over and out......

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Big news.....

Sorry I have been MIA, but I have been very busy working on taxes (it's that busy time for me) for all of the employees at my workplace and I did it, I bought a condo! I made my offer on 4/7 and it is closing on 4/27! Holy smokes all of this is happening fast, but I am really excited about it, it's brand spankin' new and I can't wait to get settled in. I fill you all in more when tax season is over, just wanted to let you all know what is going on and that I haven't vanished off the face of the earth, just buried at work.

Monday, April 2, 2007

March...a month in review!

Well, March was certainly a very exciting month! I decided to start my pursuing my dream of becoming a homeowner and was met with success! I met with a mortgage broker, found out I have awesome credit (yeah!) and was pre-approved for a mortgage. Now I have started the shopping process and I think I may have already found what I am looking for. But, I am going to go out shopping some more just to make sure. I have to at least institute my 7 day rule.

As for other financial news, I came in under my budget total for the month. Went over in some categories and stayed under in others. I am still on my grocery shopping hiatus, at least until Friday which is payday. I earned some extra money from selling some items on Craiglist, mailing in a rebate offer and filling out some surveys. I also found a lot of money this month while out walking around and paying attention. All that money went in to savings, along with saving 38% of my take home salary! Wahoo! I had no idea that it would come out to that much. Maybe next month I can hit the big 40%. All depends I guess on whether I buy a condo that soon or not.

I was looking forward to a frugal weekend this past weekend, but I had no idea it would be this frugal. I got sick on Friday night/Saturday morning with a stomach bug, so I didn't go anywhere on Saturday and stayed home lying on the couch most of the day. Hard to spend any money when you don't go anywhere and don't feel like eating anything.

Other than that I am making a more conscious effort to save money anywhere I can. Not wasting food, turning off lights, air drying my clothes. Packing a snack with me when I am going to be out and about. Drinking water instead of soda. Walking to the store instead of driving, this savings tip is twofold. One I am not using gas to go there and two, I can only buy what I can carry the mile back home.

I hope everyone had a positive cash flow for March and that April will bring showers of health, wealth and happiness.

Friday, March 30, 2007

Frugal weekend ahead...

So, here it is Friday morning and I am looking forward to the weekend. Big plans you ask? Nope, not at all, which is why I am so looking forward to it. :) Seems like every weekend is always so busy and full of things to do that we rarely get a chance to relax and rejuvenate from a busy week, so come Monday mornings I feel like I still need a weekend. Well not this time. The only thing I have planned is dinner on Sunday for my sister in laws birthday. I bought her gift a week ago, it is wrapped and ready to go and I don't have to bring anything for dinner or dessert either! Yah! This afternoon after work I am going home to make chicken chow mien for dinner, most of the ingredients are chopped and ready to go, the chicken is already cooked, so all I will have to do is put it together. Tomorrow I have absolutely nothing planned but maybe taking a walk if the weather is nice, catching up on some reading and a watching a movie that will be in tomorrows mail from Netflix. I have decided to forgo the evening out on Saturday with my girlfriends, one because I don't want to spend the money on it and two because there are a couple of people going who I don't enjoy spending time with so I think it would ruin it for me and then I would resent the fact that I am spending money on a not so fun evening. It will be interesting to see how much money I spend on this weekend with not many plans, I am hoping it will be as frugal as I am anticipating. :) I'll let you all know on Monday as I think I will try to stay off the computer all weekend as well. Time to regroup and re-energize and spend some quality time with me. Catch up with you all on Monday, I hope everyone has a wonderful, relaxing weekend. Be kind to yourself.

Thursday, March 29, 2007

I'm approved! :)

Well, I don't have anything going on to tell you all about except that I do have my mortgage approval letter in hand and can begin the home shopping in earnest! I will hopefully have a chance to go out this weekend and see what is out there. I'm in a good position in that my lease is up and it is just month to month now with no chance of a rate increase, so I am not in desperate need to buy something. I will get out there and look and when the right thing comes along, I will know. I do have my eye on somethings I have seen online and will go check them out. I'll keep you posted on how that goes and hopefully soon I will be writing with details about my new home!